Are these charges the thin end of the wedge?

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STEVE CANAVAN: Hard truths and sage advice for fathers-to-be: part two

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Is this the thin end of the wedge? Now that overnight car parking charges are being introduced on 14 Portsmouth roads, how long will it be before the same system is introduced for other roads in the city?

That is the question people are bound to be asking when they read the story on page 11 today.

The city council’s leader for transport, Cllr Jason Fazackarley, says: ‘There are no plans to charge anywhere else.

‘None have been discussed, or hinted at. We don’t want to do that.’

That seems pretty unequivocal. But experience has taught us that situations can change.

So some will doubtless share the scepticism of Tory transport spokesman Cllr Lee Hunt, who responds: ‘It’s worrying because it could be the start of charging for the whole city.’

Head of transport Simon Moon has already revealed that charging £2 for parking overnight on a list of roads between Gunwharf Quays and Guildhall Walk, plus Edinburgh Road and Exchange Road, will raise £35,000 a year.

That’s a nice little earner, particularly at a time when the council is being forced to make major cutbacks.

It’s three years since the then leader for transport, Cllr Lynne Stagg, made overnight parking in Portsmouth free.

Now we’re going back to the old 24-hour charging system, albeit only for certain roads.

But the important point here is that a precedent is being set. This means it then becomes easier to do it again, whatever may have been said.

We can see the argument. Some people use the roads concerned instead of paying charges to park at Gunwharf Quays when they go out in the evening.

But these are not residential streets, so it’s not as if people are being deprived of the ability to park outside their homes when they return in the evenings.

And the fact is we already pay tax for the privilege of using roads.

Yet in Portsmouth it appears there are fewer and fewer opportunities to park for free as the council looks to maximise revenue from motorists.