Town parking fees to rise so council can balance books

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PARKING charges in Gosport’s town centre will go up from January.

It comes as Gosport Borough Council plans to increase almost a third – 32 per cent – of its fees and charges to help balance its budget.

These range from the cost of parking in short-stay car parks to permits for using council land.

Under the plans, parking charges in the short-stay car parks in Gosport’s town centre and Lee-on-the-Solent will rise by 10p.

An hour will cost 30p instead of 20p and two hours will cost 60p instead of 50p.

The Tory leader of Gosport Borough Council, Councillor Mark Hook, says the charges still offer better value for money than other shopping precincts.

And shopkeepers say they are not worried by the rise.

Town centre shopkeeper John Bowles said: ‘With Fareham charging silly money for its car parks, I don’t think this rise is extortionate. Everywhere is putting their charges up and 10p isn’t much.’

Cllr Hook said the council will pick up around £100,000 in income next year through all the measures – the equivalent of a two per cent council tax rise.

Peter Patterson, of the Lee Business Association, said: ‘Times are bad enough at the moment without having an extra cost but that’s what’s happening in this climate.

‘As long as there is parity among all the short-stay car parks I don’t really see a problem.’

The cost of parking permits and long-stay car parks will not be affected.

Cllr Hook said: ‘It still offers excellent value for money.

‘I have a duty to all council tax payers to keep council tax to a minimum.

‘To protect businesses we have not raised things like private hire and Hackney carriage licences and there is still no charge for things like charity collections.’

The council will also introduce some new charges, including for pre-planning application advice.

People building extensions to their house will not need to pay, but big businesses or housing developers will.

Councillors will debate the proposals tonight and make a decision at a full council meeting in Gosport’s town hall.