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Issue 339 – Hike in car parking charges will ‘drive people out of the town centre’

CAR parking charges in Frome are set to rise as Mendip District Council’s Cabinet gave the green light to plans which will see a 7.5% hike in charges from February next year.

Frome town councillors attended Monday night’s meeting to protest against the proposals, which the district council says will secure an additional £100,000.
Cllr Helen Sprawson-White told Frome Times after the meeting, “I appreciate revenue needs to be generated but alternative avenues should have been explored. People will be driven out of our town centre.
“I am incredibly cross that when it was my turn to speak before Cabinet, I was not allowed to finish speaking. We have spent a lot of time consulting local people who do not want to see the hike in charges, and their voice had just been ignored.
“Cabinet even ignored a petition of nearly 300 signatures, gathered in around three hours on Saturday (5th November). Our neighbours in Wiltshire raised car parking charges and are now regretting their decision after an actual decrease in revenue.
“The decision has been made, but we will continue to campaign for fairer charges.
“The proposal originally outlined that the charges were to be implemented on the 12th of December, just in time for Christmas. At least this was changed and the charges will be implemented in February instead.”
President of Frome Chamber of Commerce Neil Howlett also attended the cabinet meeting and said afterwards, “We are disappointed that Mendip District Council did not consult with the Chamber of Commerce over this important review. We think we could have made a positive contribution to making better use of the council’s resources and supporting their economic strategies and we hope that in future they will engage with the business community.”
Mendip District councillor for Frome College ward, Adam Boyden, said that he was ‘shocked’ at the decision. “They have totally ignored the voice of the people. I was shocked at how little cllr John Parham (Mendip District Council portfolio holder for regulatory services) wanted to listen to everyone.
“The motion has been passed but I will look into some form of shopper refund scheme, whereby a proportion of your car parking ticket can be reimbursed.
“The campaign for fairer parking will continue, I just hope this decision will not affect town centre trade.”
Mendip council’s car parking report, which was compiled for the cabinet meeting stated, “There is a risk to the council of £100,000 loss in income if charges are not increased in line with the recommendations of the car parks working group.”
The cabinet also dealt a blow to season ticket holders, with charges set to rise by 7.5% to the nearest £1.

Free half-day parking in run up to Christmas

A proposal to introduce free half-day parking from 2.00pm for the two weeks before Christmas, which will commence on 12th of December, was also agreed from Mendip District Council’s Cabinet.
President of Frome Chamber of Commerce commented, “The decision is helpful, but could have been better focused and we are still willing to work with Mendip District Council on their car parking strategy.
Mendip District Council’s cabinet also agreed the introduction of signage in car parks to indicate where cheaper parking is available for the same time limit.

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