New low-cost parking scheme expected in 2020, says Southend Council deputy leader

The council’s deputy leader has said major changes to parking across Southend could be in place by the end of the year, giving residents and workers a more convenient and affordable way to park.

Councillor Ron Woodley has spent the past eight months working on a major review of how parking is handled across the borough with the view of developing a strategy that takes into consideration all aspects of parking and road use.

Among the ideas put forward by the deputy leader is a parking subscription plan that will offer residents the chance to pay a monthly fee to park anywhere in Southend for three hours on any day of the week.

As well as offering the radical parking plan to Southend residents, Mr Woodley says it will also be made available to people living in Castle Point and Rochford.

“My priority this year is the new parking strategy which will help with plans for both the highways and the footways,” said Mr Woodley.

“The parking strategy itself will be reviewed in mid-March to make sure it’s a viable plan but we’ve already had interest from the national Local Government Association, which is considering a paper on it as an example for other authorities.

“We need to change the way we think when it comes to people living and working in the town and local area. I don’t see boundaries, I want the same benefits for Southend residents to be offered to people in Rochford and Castle Point.

“People purchasing flats and homes in the town centre need somewhere to park and workers, whether they are part-time or full time, need somewhere to park and it needs to be as cheap as possible, which is all part of the plan.”

Other planned measures include improving parking enforcement against repeat offenders, improving parking for electric vehicles and reviewing resident parking schemes.

The parking strategy will be introduced following the council’s decision to ditch the unpopular two hour minimum parking charge in the town centre in October.

Since that charge was scrapped, the council has revealed an extra 8,500 visitors have parked in the town compared to the same time the previous year. It is also understood that the charge contributed significantly towards a £3.1million deficit for the council.

The two-hour charge is still in place on the seafront but Mr Woodley has previously explained that this is likely to be removed as part of the 2020/21 budget so that the changes to income can be properly considered.

Details of the spending included in the new budget are expected to be revealed in February.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter