Residents to count cost if Tunbridge Wells free parking is scrapped
By Kent and Sussex Courier | Friday, October 26, 2012, 08:00
FREE car parks across Tunbridge Wells are being targeted in a new council drive, which will see residents charged hundreds of pounds for premium spaces.
The Yew Tree Road car-park in Southborough
unfair: Residents of High Brooms Road are angry that the free car park may be turned into a residents' car park costing them £200 a year each TWLD20121024D-004_C
Southborough and High Brooms are particularly hard hit as the borough council announced plans to charge for the use of two sites for the first time.
Under the plans High Brooms Road car park will now be reserved exclusively for residents with permits while the free facility in Yew Tree Road will introduce charges after the first hour.
Vehicle owners who live in High Brooms Road would have to fork out £200 for each of the ten spaces – more than three times the price of a normal zone permit.
A similar scheme is planned for the two car parks in Stone Street, off Camden Road, which would be converted into spaces for residents cars for a £200 fee.
The car park in John Street, off St John's Road, would also introduce fees of up to £4.50 but will retain one free hour.
High Brooms Road resident Steve Good petitioned the council in 2009 over a proposal to sell that site.
"We fought to keep the car park free because of the businesses and residents believe it was important for the area," he said.
"I find this astonishing because we were told years ago it would be kept free. To turn it into a residential only car park seems very risky."
Neighbour Paul Kimber, 45, said: "I think it could cause a bit of resentment. If your neighbour has a permit but is not using the space there will be a free space that none of the residents can use, which is not fair.
"At least at the moment if there is a space available you can use it, which is fair."
Businesses in London Road slammed the proposed charge for the Yew Tree Road car park, saying it would damage trade.
The council wants to charge 40p after the first hour, rising to £5 for anything more than six hours.
Elaine Lawrence, owner of Bliss Cafe, said: "In this economic climate it's a stupid move – traders are struggling enough as it is."
In a report by the council's parking manager Emma Pell, presented to the cabinet on Thursday, she said "a number of" car parks have large costs but do not generate enough income, leading to the new proposals. She said funds generated would be used for car park maintenance.
There was good news for drivers in the rest of the borough as the council announced parking fees for most town centre car parks have been frozen after rising every year since 2007 and residential permits will remain at £60.
The only town centre car park where prices will rise is Torrington, Vale Road, where stays longer than four hours will see a rise.
The council will now consult on the changes, which will be implemented in April if approved.