THE squeeze on free parking in Havant town centre has led a priest to come up with an innovative idea to raise funds for his church.
Father Tom Grufferty is charging £20 a week for motorists to park at St Joseph’s Church in West Street in the town.
It comes after Havant Borough Council agreed to introduce yellow lines in parts of West Street, Brockhampton Road, Staunton Road and Western Road.
The order was approved last month because parking on both sides of the road has led to emergency vehicles struggling to get through.
But workers are worried about where they will park and how much they will have to pay.
Yellow lines will be introduced outside the church, where parking problems have been at their worst.
Father Tom has offered parking spaces at £20 a week from 8am to 6pm to motorists.
He said: ‘Just this morning we had high drama because somebody parked in front of the gate and we had a funeral.
‘The police had to tow the car away. Those are the kind of problems we have had over the years. We spoke with the council (about their parking plans) who said anything we could do to ease congestion they would encourage.
‘We decided to go ahead after discussing it with our finance committee.
‘Having looked around the town centre we thought £4 per day was very competitive but we haven’t had any uptake yet so we might look at that again.’
The nearest long stay council car park is £7 a day. The Meridian Centre car parks are £44 for a monthly pass which works out at £2.20 per working day.
But Andrew Miller, who works in the town centre, said he would not consider paying.
He said: ‘All I will do is park further away even if it does mean a longer walk. I think the church will have to drop the parking price to compete.’