The executive of Fareham Borough Council voted in favour of introducing charges at nine coastal car parks across the area last year, with the revenue covering costs for new car park equipment and supporting an emergency coronavirus budget.
Following the council resolving to stick by the plan last month, residents across Portchester have banded together in the hope that councillors will reconsider applying the charges to the parking areas around Portchester Castle.
Charges of £1 an hour for up to six hours will have a costly impact on the volunteers who help make up the community, according to Councillor Roger Price – and there are fears that the charges could jeopardise a popular gala.
Cllr Price said: ‘As it serves the church, the sailing club, and the scouts..it’s unique, and it’s why we feel so strongly that it should be treated in a different manner.
‘At the moment the gala uses the car park for the fun fair, and the fun fair really funds the gala. If the fun fair isn’t written into an agreement (to use the car park), the gala would be lost forever.’
Residents are also increasingly concerned about the congestion and parking along Castle Street, with parked cars often restricting traffic and being left on grass verges.
Cllr Price added: ‘Castle Street already has a major problem with parking - emergency vehicles won’t be able to get through.’
Keith Barton, chairman of the Fareham Independent Group, which attended the demonstration, said: ‘We are totally against these parking charges and are looking to put residential candidates forward in the next local elections, so these decisions could be reversed if this is what the residents want. We are still fighting to stop them, as we have evidence that the meeting was not conducted correctly and a complaint with supporting evidence is being raised by us.’
Responding to the concerns aired at a council scrutiny panel earlier this week, Cllr Trevor Cartwright said that parity with other car parks and the local authority’s budget were overriding concerns.
Cllr Cartwright said: ‘We as councillors fully understand that it’s imperative that we get some revenue into the council to continue services.
‘It seemed somewhat unfair to charge in every other car park in Fareham but Portchester.’
Regarding the gala, he added that the council will not charge for use of the car park this year and will talk with organisers about future events: ‘We want to negotiations to start shortly, sooner rather than later.’
Last year, members of Hill Head Sailing Club said the charges across coastal car parks threatened the club’s continued existence.
Charges at car parks in Swanwick, Warsash, Meon Shore, and Hill Head were due to begin later this month, with the council to consult with English Heritage regarding the Portchester car park.