Rising Southport car parking charges could damage council as well as business

Sefton could have shot themselves in the foot over on- street parking charges according to Southport’s MP John Pugh. The MP believes Sefton should do a proper impact study of the recent sharp rise in car parking charges.

Talking about the recent increases he said: “Apart from economic damage to town-centre businesses, any sharp decline in people choosing to use on street car parking might mean an income drop for the council even when charges are up.

“Sometimes oddly lowering a charge as any business will tell you leads to more custom and more income. The council has out-sourced car parking enforcement with a fixed cost contract so even if the streets are empty, wardens wages and numbers remain the same. The council may make nothing from these changes.

“Southport has always had a reasonable price for the first half hour to enable people to drop off goods or pop into a specific shop but in many places we have crossed a psychological barrier with a £1.50 charge. People who didn’t mind paying 70p or so will think – ‘I’ll go to a shop outside the town centre.’

“Added to which, if businesses follow their customers out of the centre that will be a loss of rates and rateable income. That doesn’t hurt the council now but the intention of the government is to make council income dependent on local rates.”

The MP revived his call to let local business chiefs on the BID manage the car park contract.

“It would make sense to give the car parking contract to the Business Improvement District (BID) team and that is certainly possible. That would bring together parking enforcement and economic regeneration and ensure that they don’t conflict. All we are getting at the moment is council departments working in silos and not looking at the Big Picture.”


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