COUNCILLORS have decided increased Cosham car parking charges are a ‘small price to pay’ for kicking out the clampers.
Yesterday Portsmouth City Council’s traffic and transportation department approved raising the hourly rate by 10p to 60p at car parks behind shops in High Street, Cosham.
The council has agreed to take on the running and enforcement of the car parks and as part of the agreement the landlords wanted the hourly rate raised.
The decision paves the way for the council to take over parking duties from clamping firm City Watch Enforcement, which has been repeatedly criticised for heavy-handed tactics. The land, which is leased to Lionsgate Properties and managed by Lee Baron, is expected to be taken over by the council in April.
Cabinet member for traffic and transportation, Cllr Jason Fazackarley, said the increase in charges was the decision of the leaseholders – not the council.
‘This has been a long and painful situation up in Cosham,’ he said. ‘But it has provided a great example of people from all different parties and walks of life fighting against that company.
‘Portsmouth has not raised any other parking fees this year, but this is a small price to pay if we get rid of the clampers.
‘The sooner we can take over this car park and rid the city of City Watch the better.’
Labour group leader and transport spokesman Jim Patey added: ‘This issue has been a cloud hanging over the heads of businesses in the area thanks to the bad publicity received as a result of the clampers.
‘Getting rid of them will bring back more confidence in the area at a time when retail is suffering.
‘We need to do everything within our power to maintain shopping in the north part of the city in particular.’
A car park behind Salvation Army Trading Company charity shop and Totesport, which has free parking and permit-holder spaces, will now also become 60p an hour.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘I’m pleased the council has taken this step, I just wish they had done it sooner.
‘But I will continue to support people given fines who are fighting against City Watch in the courts.’