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Southend Council’s cabinet is to consider changes to parking charges as part of its draft budget for 2021/22 (Cabinet, 14 January, item 9).
The draft budget report confirms plans to create parking zones across Southend borough (zone 1a, zone 1b, zone 2 and zone 3) and proposes simplified parking charges across these new zones to be introduced in April 2021.
If approved in February, seafront parking charges within the new zone 1a would rise, but with the one, three and five hour options returning to car parks. Three and five hour options would return to car parks in the town centre car area too (zone 1b), with a flat charge of £1.10 an hour introduced for up to six hours.
Charges in a new outer zone 2 would see reductions in the main. Charges will also be introduced at Southchurch Park East (zone 2) car park, but the first hour will be free for school drop off and pick up only. Small car parks at Hadleigh Road, Leigh Hill and Uttons Avenue (all Zone 2) will remain free.
Ten car parks will fall into a new district zone 3, with £1 an hour parking charges introduced at four of them for up to three hours (Eastwood Boulevard, Pargat Drive, Rayleigh Road and Sutherland Boulevard).
All car parks in parks and sports grounds that are free will remain so, meaning the six other car parks in this zone (Cockethurst Recreation ground, Dalmatia Road, Eastwood Park, Jones Memorial recreation ground, St Laurence Park and Victory Sports Ground) will remain free.
With these proposed changes to parking charges, residents will benefit from buying an annual Southend Pass which will be available to use from April 2021. Costing £8.50 per month it will allow vehicle owners to park for up to three hours in each of the four zones every day. Pass holders wishing to spend more than three hours in any one zone would be able to add additional time through the MOBON app.
The proposed changes to the parking charges form part of wider proposals which could also see £50m invested in improving roads and pavements over the next five years, along with capital investment of £0.8m for resurfacing Alexandra Street, Clarence Road, Hamlet Court Road, Warrior Square and Fairheads Green car parks.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, inward and capital investment, said: “This proposed budget shows a significant increase in the level of investment in the borough’s pavements and roads, the exciting introduction of the Southend Pass, and the creation of new parking zones and simplified charges that will ensure charging is consistent across various car parks which is not currently the case.
“The last 12 months have applied unprecedented pressures on council budgets across the country. These pressures, alongside the 90 per cent reduction in Government grants over the past 10 years, means as a council we have to be self-sustainable, and we must look at ways of helping to fund local services and highways improvements for example to keep the borough moving forward.
“Whilst we do not wish to increase charges too much, local residents will be able to buy a Southend Pass and park for up to 12 hours a day across the four zones, for less than 28p a day, offering exceptional value. I have no doubts that if residents sign up to the pass, they will save money compared to both the current charges and proposed new charges.
“These proposals will also help us increase our proposed investment into the highways budget, which could see £50m invested in our roads, pavements and car parks over the next five years, demonstrating the commitment of this administration to improve the quality of our roads and pavements, an area our residents feel passionately about, and something highlighted through public engagement. This is a major financial commitment, and a huge increase on the £8m which has been invested over the previous five years.
“Even with the pressures we face and the major investment proposed, we have been able to devise a balanced and consistent approach for parking charges which as a whole provides more options for residents and visitors as we look to drive recovery for the borough.”
The draft budget will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Thursday January 14, the council’s three scrutiny committees at the start of February, with the final budget to be considered at full council on Thursday February 25.