TRADESPEOPLE working in and around Southend will see the cost of parking slashed from next month, while drivers flouting parking rules will be hit harder.

The costs of Southend Council’s tradesperson parking permits will be slashed by almost half thanks to a budget amendment pushed through by opposition councillors.

Currently, tradesmen pay £1,100 to park on the city’s streets and in car parks for a year.

However, from April 1, that will be cut to £600 per year.

It comes amid a major amendment to the Tory-led council administration’s budget last month.

Deputy mayor Ron Woodley, councillor for Thorpe and leader of Residents First, says the cut-price permits will benefit tradespeople and residents.

He said: “It means that, for £50 a month, tradesmen can park at pay and display spaces or single-yellow lines without fear of getting a ticket.

“They can work on people’s homes or make deliveries without having to keep moving to another space. That also benefits residents because it means the tradesmen can work without being interrupted.

“The previous price was extortionate when I introduced the permit about a year and a half ago, so the take-up wasn’t good.

“I think it’s a good deal and I hope more people will take it up.

“There are around 20,000 trade vehicles in the area, including Rochford and Castle Point, so I can see the potential benefits for people from all over south Essex.

“Like the Southend Parking Pass, it doesn’t exclude people outside the city.”

However, Mr Woodley has pledged a “crackdown” on motorists who flout the parking rules, with an increase in parking wardens.

He said: “People without the pass who try to flout the rules will get a penalty charge notice. They will get nicked.

“We are increasing the number of enforcement officers. They pay for themselves, as we expect to bring in around four to five times their cost in revenue.”

Mr Woodley also hopes the deal will help ease Southend Council’s financial woes.

He said: “It will improve council finances as there will be more money coming in. Everybody wins.”

Visit the Southend Council website for more information.