IW Council: Conservatives say parking charges rethink needed

The Conservative Group of 15 members of the Isle of Wight Council is calling for an urgent rethink and review of recent changes to parking charges and free parking periods right across the Island.

Speaking today, Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, says: “The changes to parking arrangements brought in by the Independent administration on the Island are going horribly wrong. Town centre businesses face an adverse impact on their trade, residents face increased costs and great inconvenience, and what is more there is a real risk that revenues will go down because of mistakes that have been made in the administration of new visitors’ parking permits.

“During the debate on the Council’s budget in March, I asked for an urgent strategic review of parking to make sure the Independents weren’t making serious mistakes with their plans. That review was agreed, but has simply not happened. It should now do so as a matter of urgency.”

Cllr Julie Jones-Evans spoke about the impact on Newport businesses adding: “I have been urging the current administration for the past year to have an overview of the parking strategy. This was one of the main reasons I voted against the budget in March. Newport contributes 25% of all parking revenue and many of my residents have to park in IWC controlled areas. To inflict further financial pain onto residents and shoppers by increasing not only the hourly charge but by charging till 8pm is in my mind usury. The night time economy will be particularly affected, as people will have to pay on the High Street and car parks after 6pm if they want to eat out or go to the theatre. This is short sighted and unnecessary.“

Cllr Wayne Whittle highlighted fundamental errors in the way visitors’ permits are marketed: “Visitor permits are currently being bought by islanders who travel to the mainland to shop or have a day out as they are £1.70 cheaper for two days and £6.40 cheaper for a week, this saving will increase when car park pay and display prices go up in the near future. Visitor permits should be sold to visitors via accommodation and Solent travel booking agencies and printed off like e-tickets at no expense to the Council, with an electronically readable bar code, compatible with the current scanning equipment. Instead they are advertised and sold from adverts over pay and display machines in our car parks. Both the pricing structure and the marketing are simply bonkers. An urgent review is vital.”

Cllr Stuart Hutchinson talked about the problems faced with the Moa Place car park in Freshwater: “The loss of the free half hour badly affects all the local shops and businesses. There is almost no on-street parking nearby and people will not pay a pound to park if all they want is a newspaper or a bottle of milk. Elderly residents popping in to the surgery to collect their free prescription will now have to pay a pound every time to get it. Locals are so against the proposal that a petition started by a local resident a few days ago already has over 1500 signatures.”

Cllr John Hobart, who has been leading a campaign to avoid the imposition of charges on the Carisbrooke High Street car park says: “Our local church, high street shops and many voluntary groups are really threatened by the imposition of the charges. They will suffocate our local economy.”

And Cllr Chris Whitehouse, Conservative Group Secretary, called on residents and businesses to lobby the Council saying: “Serious mistakes have been made across the piece by the Independents. Residents, businesses, churches and voluntary groups affected should speak out and contact the Leader of the Council, Ian Stephens, demanding that he now urgently deliver the review of the plans that was promised. By contrast the previous Conservative administrations at County Hall didn’t increase charges or reduce free parking for six years! We can stop this madness if we all act now, before it is too late.”