Councillors criticise ‘extortionate’ parking charge increases before voting them through

Councillors criticised proposals to put up the price of parking in Brighton and Hove – calling them extortionate and callous – before a committee voted for the changes.

The ruling Greens voted for the higher charges and the Conservatives voted against while Labour abstained, having criticised the proposed increases.

Labour said that it wanted to debate fees and charges next month when councillors set the budget for Brighton and Hove City Council for the financial year from April.

The proposed rises – including 12.5 per cent more for business permits – form part of the budget.

Conservative councillor Vanessa Brown objected to putting up the cost of parking at four council-run car parks in Brighton.

She said that the proposed 15 per cent increase was “extortionate”, adding: “When the shops and restaurants are at last able to open again, they’re going to need as much custom as possible to stay afloat.

“These charges are going to deter residents from shopping in Brighton. The problem is I feel it will take a little while for residents to have the confident travelling by bus again.”

Labour councillor Gill Williams said that now was not the time to increase parking charges because people were “extremely reluctant” to use public transport.

During a virtual council committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday 19 January), she mentioned the day’s coronavirus deaths total was 1,610 – the highest ever.

Britain had the worst death rate per million than any other nation, she said, adding: “People are getting more and more nervous, especially older people and people with underlying conditions.

“We don’t want to penalise them for wanting to be safe.”

Another Labour councillor, Carmen Appich, said: “Although we agree that we should be promoting the liveable city centre and reduce motorised traffic, we cannot keep penalising residents for owning cars.

“Instead, we need to persuade them to change to more environmentally friendly transport, as already discussed by the climate assembly.

“Our residents will already be hit by increases in council tax and many are now unemployed – or furloughed at 80 per cent of their normal wages. Food, if anything, is becoming more expensive and rents haven’t reduced.

Councillor Carmen Appich

“To increase on-street residential parking charges for the 12 months during the pandemic is unacceptable and disproportionately penalises families with low income.”

She said that car parking charges did not.

Their fellow Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson said that to put up parking charges above the rate of inflation was “callous”.

Councillor Wilkinson said: “Footfall is down due to the pandemic. To hike up parking charges now could be massively detrimental to businesses and to Brighton and Hove as a whole.

“I think our residents, on the whole, would rather give their support to there being little to no increase in car parking charges.

“It would be very callous of us in the middle of a pandemic to increase charges.”

Councillor Gary Wilkinson

He said that the council could explore different approaches such as flexible pricing based on traffic flow and congestion levels.

The price rises were approved by the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, with the four Greens backing the proposals.

The two Conservative members of the committee voted against the proposals, while the four Labour members abstained.

The overall budget is due to be discussed by the full council at a virtual budget-setting meeting on Thursday 25 February when the council tax is also expected to be agreed.

Some aspects of the budget are due to be discussed by the council’s Policy and Resources Committee a fortnight before on Thursday 11 February.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    How have Council parking charges always compared with outsourced NCP etc.?

  2. Rostrum Reply

    Normal pathetic decision from our pathetic out of touch navel gazing council.

  3. Rostrum Reply

    Good to see Labour not making a contribution apart from breathing the same air and drawing their dosh.

  4. rob Reply

    What is the point of being on a committee if you (Labour) abstain and let something be voted through which you don’t agree with?

    Is it just politics and secretely you agree with the charge but don’t want to take the blame?

    Everyone should either vote for or against, not abdicate responsibility and sit on the fence allowing it to go through.

    Shockingly poor actions from Labour, I expected much better.

  5. Jonathan Simons Reply

    Totally disingenuous nonsense from Labour as usual. The poorest and most vulnerable residents do not own the gas guzzlers Labour seek to “protect” from a few pence increase – this is just a cynical attempt to entertain the SUV owners. As usual they’ve sold out all of their manifesto commitments to non car travel and air quality.

  6. Robbo Reply

    These large ABOVE INFLATION increases in Parking Charges are IN ADDITION to large increases last year. They will penalise people on low and low/middle incomes most of all. They will also deter visitors and increase costs for local small businesses. Labour should have voted against these large increases.

  7. Rolivan Reply

    It will be interesting to see if the Bus Companies put up fares.Public Transport fares in the UK are extortianate.

  8. Hove Guy Reply

    I have lived here all my life and regard this as the most incompetent and misguided lot of morons Brighton Council has ever had. Does one have to have a part of one’s brain missing to be carrying out such destructive policies? They are intent on turning Brighton and Hove into a no-go area, apart from welcoming beggars, drunks, drug addicts, vandalisers and graffiti idiots. Already, so many people have told me they are not bothering to come any more, but would prefer to visit and go shoppiong in Eastbourne. Who can blame them? Putting up the already exorbitant parking charges will only drive more people away.

  9. Greens Out Reply

    Once again, this council shows their contempt for the citizens of this crumbling dump, along with their ideallogical greed.

    Also Labour showing their true colours and wimpering to the commands of the lunatics in office (undeservedly in office). They are NOT ooposition. Their unlawful and completely undemocratic pact with the Greens is just a back up motion for the idiots.

  10. Nathan Adler Reply

    I totally understand why the Greens would vote for this, it makes sense and why the Conservatives would oppose. As for Labour totally and utterly spineless. In abstaining they knew it would get through but they hoped to duck the blame, well I am afraid Cllr Wilkinson everyone has seen you for what you are and how damaging the coalition with the Greens is. Today I feel totally ashamed to be a Labour supporter – the party has let down the city.

  11. Chaz Reply

    By abstaining, Labour voted with their friends the Greens.
    Pathetic, both parties.
    B&H is being bankrupted by both parties.
    Enough is enough.

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