Rugby First: parking charge increase may deter town centre shoppers

Parking in the town centre.
Parking in the town centre.

Advertiser readers and Rugby First have expressed concern at a 10 per cent increase in on-street parking charges in the town which come into effect today, Tuesday January 9.

Warwickshire County Council, responsible for on-street parking, agreed to the changes back in October.

The council said it wanted to increase its charges to encourage drivers to park in off street locations, such as multi-storey car parks.

Aftab Gaffar, Rugby First Managing Director, said: “From the outset Rugby First have campaigned on behalf of the business community and customers against on-street parking charges in the town centre.

"They are already high and the increase may deter people from shopping in the town centre which will have a negative effect on businesses and the local economy.

"I think the timing for the introduction of the new charges should also be questioned as the town centre is facing increased competition from Elliot’s Field who offer free car parking to their customers.”

Readers on the Advertiser's Facebook page expressed their concerns over the charges.

Louise Young said: "And they wonder why the local businesses are going out of business! If the first hour was free it would encourage more people to pop in for things they want rather than use the retail park with its free parking."

Andi Dixon-Mould said: "And they wonder why the town centre is dying when it's free to park at Junction 1 retail park."

Keiran Hallam said: "Another nail in the coffin for the independent traders. Pure greed from the council, and a blatant lack of support for the dwindling traders who fight every day on the High Street to make a living and bring in trade and tourists into the town. While the out of town retail parks get busier with their free parking, taking the trade and footfall away from the town centre."

The new charges are as follows:

12 minutes - 20p charge abolished

30 minutes - 50p increasing to 55p

1 hour - £1 increasing to £1.10

90 minutes - £1.50 increasing to £1.65

2 hours - £2 increasing to £2.20

The abolition of the 12-minute charge means people looking to park for a short amount of time will now have to pay the 30-minute charge.

A spokesman for Warwickshire County Council said: "This is the first such increase introduced on any street in Warwickshire since 2013 and in some street the charge for a one hour stay has remained the same since 2006.

"The increase will encourage drivers to use District or Borough Council controlled off-street parking spaces ahead of on-street spaces which helps traffic flows around towns.

"When deciding on rate increases a number of factors were considered, including the price relative to off street parking charges, what payments that can be made with tendered denominations of legal tender and the ability to offer drivers flexible tariffs which allow parking commensurate to the amount of change they have available.

"These proposed increases mean on-street parking charges will become more uniform across Warwickshire and remain competitively priced when compared with many other areas."

Praising Rugby Borough Council and encouraging shoppers to use cheaper off-street parking, Mr Gaffar said: “On a positive note there is plenty of low-cost off-street town centre parking managed by Rugby Borough Council and I would encourage people to take advantage of this.

"The fees for these car parks are low in comparison to other town centres and the council should take full credit in recognising the value and importance of low-cost parking to town centre economies."

For more information on Rugby Borough Council's off-street parking, see here.