Concerns over future of free parking as Hampshire County Council plans to bring charges and permits in-house

PARKING charges and permits could be made more expensive in the future, a councillor has warned.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 12:49 pm

Hampshire County Council is proposing to centralise parking services across the county, in a bid to make the service more efficient.

In many parts of the county, including Basingstoke, Eastleigh and Havant, on-street parking is managed by the district councils.

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Street parking could become more strictly enforced across the county. Picture: Lisa Ferguson Regent Street, Portobello Narrow street parking,cars on kerb and road, parking, pavement parking, struugle to pass, cars, tyres

But Liberal Democrat spokesman for economy, transport and environment, Cllr Martin Tod, is concerned that this move will have a major impact on residents.

He said: 'The county’s plan only talks about raising money - and that inevitably means hiking charges and cutting enforcement.

'There’s nothing in there about making sure our high streets thrive, or that we improve air quality, or cut carbon and no guarantees on the level of service and enforcement that residents will receive – or any recognition that we need to offer good value to residents. There’s nothing in there about making sure that on-street and off-street parking rules work together.

'We’ve seen in the areas where they already run the service that Hampshire has hiked prices without any improvement in service or any serious consideration of the needs of local business.

'We don’t want to see the same failure across the rest of Hampshire. These plans need to be scrapped.'

Gosport is one of the towns where the county council already manages parking.

Enforcement is handled by the county council's parking contractor, NSL.

Leader of Gosport Borough Council, Cllr Graham Burgess, admitted residents could lose out on free parking areas - but said prices won't be increased.

He said: 'I think it's a bit of a falsehood from Cllr Tod because parking charges will stay the same.

'In a way residents will have to pay more if charges are introduced in new roads - for example in Lee-on-the-Solent it's being considered in Marine Parade East and West - but there are upsides to this.

'As the masters of the highways they can enforce the parking better, which should bring an end to some of the parking problems experienced throughout Hampshire.'

The county council's executive member for highways operations, Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, will make a decision on the proposals tomorrow afternoon.

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