Chamber’s anger at rise in parking charges

By Surrey and Hants News in Local People

ALTON Chamber of Commerce and Industry has voiced its anger at the rise in car parking charges in the town, saying the move will have a negative effect on businesses.

In a presentation to Alton Town Council on May 11th, members said they were also angered about the apparent lack of consultation before the move was made.

Under the changes, the cost of a one-hour ticket in Alton and Petersfield will be increased from 60p to £1. And the cost of parking in the town on a Sunday is to rise from 60p to £1.

The new charges come into effect on Monday (June 5th).

The statement said: “ACCI is very concerned about the recent decision made by EHDC Cabinet to raise the charges in their Alton car parks.

The town council is making representations about the new charges, and the statement from the chamber was made in support of that stance.

It said: “Our concerns are twofold. Firstly we think the disproportionate cost increase will badly affect Alton business, particularly our retailers, but even more importantly we are worried about the total lack of consultation with anyone outside the cabinet. Indeed, we assume if there had been proper consultation such a disastrous decision would not have been made.

“As the voice of Alton business and leaders in the move to raise the profile of tourism in Alton, we have been concerned about the fragile state of retail business in Alton town centre for a long time. Increasing numbers of empty shops do nothing for the appearance and atmosphere in the town.

“We think that one of the keys to encouraging the local community and visitors alike to use the town centre more is to make car parking in Alton more user-friendly.

“We see the decision to increase the cost of parking for one hour by 66.6% as an entirely cynical method to increase council revenue without any thought of the knock-on effect for the population in general and for Alton businesses in particular.

“Our second concern is about the lack of proper consultation and debate with local stakeholders. The Alton Chamber has been in existence since 1909 and has over many years been at the forefront in helping local authorities make decisions about the future of Alton‘s economy. We... regret the increasing sidelining of Alton business groups at a time when business rates are under particular pressure.

“We strongly request EHDC to rescind this hasty and ill-thought-out decision and to carry out proper consultation with all relevant stakeholders before the matter of car park charges is brought back to cabinet.”