Evening parking charges in Southend set to be scrapped in time for school holidays

Unpopular evening parking charges in Southend could be scrapped in time for the school summer holidays, the council has revealed.

The Conservative administration is honouring its pledge to scrap a 6pm to 9pm parking charge, over fears it would hit seafront traders and deter visitors who would be paying £2.80 an hour to park on the seafront during evening hours.

It was previously free to park in the area after 6pm. .

Kevin Buck, councillor responsible for highways, transport and parking, said: “I had a meeting with the highways team this week where we discussed several of our manifesto pledges and how to put the wheels in motion to make those happen.

“The expectation is that the parking charges from 6pm to 9pm should be at least suspended if not removed altogether by the beginning of the school holidays. There’s a legal process that has to be gone through to remove them completely, but what we can do as a local authority is introduce a temporary suspension to the charges while the final process is completed.”

Work is also underway to end a 10p administration charge for using the Mobon parking app to stay in the city’s car parks.

Cllr Buck said: “That’s still being worked on and the intention is that will go at some point as soon as we can. Again, there is a legal process that has to be gone through and it has to go through the various cabinet and scrutiny cycles, but while the formal cessation can take some time there are temporary measures that can be done.”

Plans to introduce a charge for parking in several of the city’s parks are also being shelved.

Cllr Buck added: “There had been one park where they had started to introduce it. The highways and parking team have been given clear directions that needs to be removed.”

The council is set to create more than 100 new parking spaces, including some free ones in roads off the High Street. Cllr Buck said these would help to offset any potential losses from the scrapped charges.

He said: “We are doing a detailed review of the budget implications. We are quite confident that the money will be found bearing in mind some of the increased revenue was a forecast and it may not have materialised anyway.

“We are looking at increasing parking capacity across the city and that will generate additional revenue which is expected to offset the removal of charges.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter