The Conservatives have said that they will oppose council plans to charge drivers for parking in eight parks, including those in Saltdean and Woodingdean.
The party criticised the timing as insensitive, during the coronavirus pandemic when people needed parks and open spaces for exercise.
The proposal is due to be debated by members of Brighton and Hove City Council at a “virtual” meeting this afternoon (Tuesday 24 November). Read about it here.
Officials said that charges could bring in up to £50,000 a year to support the council’s parks budget.
But the Tories said: “The proposal provides no details on where around the parks the parking charges will apply, how much will be charged, on what days and during which hours.
“Regardless, the Conservative group are appalled at the insensitive timing of this proposal and will be voting against the plans.”
Councillor Lee Wares, who speaks for the Conservatives on the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “The nation is presently grappling with the impact of the pandemic.
“People more than ever are needing parks and open spaces for their exercise, health and mental wellbeing – and the government and the council are encouraging people, while acting safely and responsibly, to use these spaces.
“At the very same time, the Green administration wants to capitalise on this by introducing car parking charges.
“Invariably, such a proposal will impact low-income families and deny many others from accessing these public spaces.
“The report says that such a plan will generate £50,000 of income a year – a mere £137 per day.
“The council thought nothing of spending over £300 a day on marshals to stop Madeira Drive being used or £1,200 a day on a temporary director for housing.
“Last year the council raked in £27.5 million in parking charges and fines. Perhaps the council should look closely at the efficiency of collecting that money rather than penalising residents yet again.”
Conservative leader Steve Bell, who serves as one of the two councillors for Woodingdean, said: “Happy Valley is the green lung of Woodingdean used by thousands of people of all ages.
“With covid as it is, the park’s popularity and importance has never been greater.
“The council wanting to charge people to now use that space is abhorrent.”
His colleague Councillor Mary Mears, who represents Rottingdean Coastal ward, which includes Rottingdean, Ovingdean and Saltdean, said: “This is an unbelievable proposal and just goes to show how out of touch the Green administration is with citizens.
“They haven’t consulted with ward members and we have no idea of any of the detail.
“It seems we are facing another example of the Green administration trying to slip through changes during the pandemic.”
Preston Park and East Brighton Park already have charges and drivers will have to pay at Stanmer Park from next year.
The eight parks earmarked for new charges are
- Easthill Park
- Happy Valley
- Hollingdean Park
- Saunders Park
- Vale Park
- Victoria Recreation Ground
- Wild Park
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