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Shoppers charged £7 to stop for the morning at Billericay car park
2:00pm Wednesday 19th December 2012 in Local News
DESPITE slapping a £7 cost on people to park during a one and a half hour period in Billericay, the council behind the move has defended its charges.
People wanting to park between 8am and 9.30am on Saturdays in the car park off High Street are forced to pay the amount regardless of how long they want to stay there for, with the rest of the day free.
On Saturday, wardens patrolling the park fined motorists who were flouting the charges and warned other shoppers that the price are in force until 9.30am.
Basildon Council introduced the charges in a bid to stop workers and commuters from taking all the spaces in the car park, as it free from 9.30am on Saturdays to encourage shoppers to use the town centre.
Trevor Draper, who is a member of Billericay chamber of commerce, said: “The chamber would love this charging system to stop but in order to do that we need more car parks.
“I’m sorry to hear about those who are caught out, but it is a necessary evil so we can provide parking for people to use our stores.
“It is a cost designed to make it unattractive for people to stay there all day from 8am.”
“The council say there is no room to build more car parking yet they continue to more building work to take place here. It has been a problem for a while now.”
Mr Draper, who owns the Cook Shop, just off High Street, said that the chamber of commerce had asked the council to impose the charges to put off commuters and those who work in the town taking all the spaces after free parking was designed to draw in shoppers to the town centre.
He added that there was only about 100 spaces available for shoppers in the town’s two other car parks in Radford Crescent and behind Iceland as the majority of spaces were taken up by workers in Billericay who have permits.
A Basildon Council spokesman said: "Following the introduction of the free weekend parking scheme, all day parking by commuters and workers visibly increased on Saturdays, with much of the car park full by 10am.
“This was restricting the use for shoppers and High Street visitors which is the very reason for introducing the initiative in the first place.
"After discussions with the Chamber of Commerce, a £7 charge was introduced between 8am and 9:30am on Saturday and this appears to have worked.
“Visitors who wish to park earlier than 9.30am can use the Radford Way car park for free which is only a five minute walk away from the High Street."
A shopper, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s ridiculous. If you just wanted to pop into town to buy some bits and bobs you’re spending £7.
“I would expect to pay about 50p to park for half-an-hour or so. It’s unbelievable.”
The Saturday charge will be dropped for the next two weeks as it is one of the locations that has free Christmas parking over the next two weeks.
The High Street car park is one of several locations in the area that has free weekend parking all year round, after Basildon Council introduced the initiative in 2009.
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