SHOPPERS and staff have criticised plans to increase charges at two car parks in Havant
The owners of the Meridian Shopping Centre car parks, off Elm Lane and West Street, want to put up some charges by as much as 40 per cent.
It will be the first rise in five years and coincides with a £100,000 refurbishment.
But it comes as Havant Borough Council considers introducing waiting restrictions in nearby West Street, Staunton Road, Western Road and Brockhampton Road – meaning workers and shoppers will be forced to use the car park.
In the West Street car park, charges will go up from 60p to £1 an hour; from £1.60 to £2 for three to four hours and £3.50 to £4 for over four hours.
In the Meridian Centre car park the day charge increases from £3.50 to £5 from March 19.
Lauren Healy, 22, from Havant, said: ‘As a single mum, I think it’s ridiculous.
‘I would not be able to afford £5 a day. Sixty pence for an hour is reasonable and they shouldn’t put it up to £1.
‘I’ll have to walk instead which is going to take a long time. They did have to sort the lighting out because it is such a dark car park.
‘But I don’t think they should penalise the people who use it to pay for it.’
Sarah Budziszewski, 36, uses the West Street car park regularly as she works at Betfred, just opposite.
She said: ‘You would think that in a town like Havant they would keep car parking low to encourage people in.
‘I don’t have a choice, I have to pay it as I work here but others who do have a choice won’t come here.’
Rob Fryer, the centre manager, said the refurbishment will benefit all users.
‘We appreciate that times are difficult at present but feel the improvements will encourage regular customer use to the car park and town centre,’ said Mr Fryer.
‘With the increased lighting and introduction of CCTV, we’re promoting safety and putting a stop to the previous mindless incidents of vandalism and graffiti in this area.
‘It made it unattractive and intimidating to both potential and regular users.’
He added: ‘One of our long-term aims is to help support residents with their parking in the town centre area. I’ve already been approached to look at options for using our car park due to the lack of on street parking for them.’
The council is doing a review of town centre parking and will make a decision later in the year.