Emsworth publican urges Havant Borough Council to find a new way forward on parking fees

BUSY ''Emsworth town centre and High Street
BUSY ''Emsworth town centre and High Street

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AN EMSWORTH landlord pleaded with the council last night to introduce a parking policy that supported the local high street.

Giles Babb, who runs The Blue Bell Inn and is chairman of Emsworth Business Association, addressed councillors at a full meeting of Havant Borough Council.

Mr Babb had previously presented the council with a petition from 2,700 people, who were all angry at a borough-wide price increase from 70p to £1 for one hour’s parking.

Because more than 1,500 people signed the petition, it triggered a full council debate.

Mr Babb said the South Street car park in Emsworth was hardly used during the week, with drivers clogging up residential roads and free spaces at Emsworth Recreation Ground.

He said: ‘Do you want a lot of expensive car parks which don’t have a lot of cars and businesses closing?

‘Or would you like car parks which are full, have more people parking in them, more businesses opening and more revenue coming in?’

He added: ‘It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. If you lose the revenue from parking, you will also see decreases in business rates.’

He encouraged the council to ‘think outside the box’.

The council is currently carrying out a review on parking charges following a petition of more than 4,700 signatures from Hayling Island residents.

Emsworth Cllr Richard Galloway said the council had made the ‘wrong’ decision to have a £1 charge across the borough.

He said: ‘We are now just getting the results of that.’

Cllr David Collins, who oversees parking, said: ‘The review is well on the way.

‘It’s expected to be completed by the end of October.

‘The review is looking at charges in our pay-and-display car parks.

‘It is also looking at our on-street parking arrangements across the borough.’

Cllr Gerald Shimbart, chairman of the scrutiny board leading the review, said: ‘We hope to come up with an idea that will satisfy everybody.’

Meanwhile, councillors voted unanimously to approve a free parking day on December 7, where three hours of free parking will be offered at 16 town centre car parks.