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People power helps keep car parks free in Castle Point
4:00pm Tuesday 15th October 2013 in News
FREE parking could finally be saved at four town centre car parks in Castle Point.
Controversial plans to introduce charges and waiting restrictions at 13 car parks were being considered by Castle Point Council earlier this year to generate more income.
Incensed traders claimed the move would lead to high streets becoming ghost towns and shops having to close, as shoppers would be increasingly drawn to places like Lakeside where parking is free.
However, the council has now revised the plans and could keep parking free in four town centre car parks – Richmond Avenue, in Benfleet, Castle Lane, in Hadleigh, Homestead, in Hadleigh, and Hart Road, in Thundersley.
All town centre car parks will be free on Saturdays.
Colin Riley, Castle Point councillor responsible for the environment, said: “The compromise on the off-street parking is that in each town centre location we will have a free car park to support the charges being imposed.
“In Benfleet, Richmond Hall will be supported by Richmond Avenue, which will be free.
Rectory Road, where charges will be reduced, Castle Lane and Homestead will be free, on Canvey, Oak Road will be supported by the Paddocks, which is free. In Dark Lane, as there is no alternative parking, the car park will remain free.
“We have listened to the residents to ensure all chargeable car parks are free up to 9.30am and for an hour in the afternoon for parents collecting schoolchildren.
“All town centre car parks are free on Saturdays.”
Parking would also remain free at the Paddocks car park and Thorney Bay car park, on Canvey.
However, shoppers will have to pay to use Oak Road, from Monday to Friday.
New charges will still be introduced at Richmond Hall car park, in Benfleet, from Monday to Friday, and the Lubbins car park, on Canvey, during the summer.
If the proposals are approved, the new charging scheme is expected to start from February 1 2014, and is estimated would bring in an additional £190,100 over the next five years.
Conservative councillor Simon Hart, who raised concerns about the charges, said: “Hopefully residents will be happy with these new plans because that is what they have been asking for.
“The Castle Lane car park, for example, is so well used by people that it would be inappropriate to starting charging.
“I do not want to think about what would have happened if we had brought in charges at Castle Lane car park, as I think you would start to get people parking outside people’s houses to avoid the charges.
“Hopefully, by doing this, it will also help keep the shops in Hadleigh alive.”
The council’s ruling Tory cabinet are set to decide on the proposals at a council meeting from 7pm on Wednesday at the council offices in Kiln Road, Thundersley.
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