Row erupts over seafront parking

A row has erupted over Southend Council’s failure to deliver 448 new parking spaces on the seafront…with just 40 being created.

In August last year, the council announced it would create 448 new car parking spaces along the seafront which could bring in more than half-a-million pounds annually.

However, at a council meeting, Martin Terry, Independent Thorpe ward councillor, challenged Kevin Buck, councillor responsible for parking, over the new spaces after it was revealed just 40 had been created.

He claimed the missing revenue from the promised parking bays could have helped fill the growing number of potholes across the city.

The extra spaces were proposed by the Tory administration to replace any lost revenue from axing 6pm to 9pm seafront parking charges brought in by the previous Labour-led joint administration.

Cllr Terry called for Cllr Buck to apologise for potentially reducing funding by scrapping the evening charge.

Speaking at a council meeting, he said: “Given that you based the discounts given to the seafront traders and day trippers upon production of 448 new spaces, given that the average revenue of parking spaces is £1,500, given that you’ve only produced 40 out of promised new spaces, costing our city £600,000 in lost highways revenue, would you like to take this opportunity to apologise to Southend City residents?”

Figures show the seafront parking spaces are very lucrative, with Marine Parade and Western Esplanade earning the council about £2,000 each per year. Bays in the Seaway car park bring in £1,000 per space.

It is estimated an extension of the charging hours could have brought in an extra £600,000 for the council.

Cllr Buck claimed there had actually been no loss of revenue from cutting the charge and the new spaces are “being worked on”.

He said “The commitment we made was up to 448 additional spaces. Those are still being worked on. I’m pleased to say the removal of the very damaging 6pm to 9pm parking charges, which you intend to reintroduce at the first available opportunity, has not had any affect on the budgeted revenue. Parking revenue is still forecast to make a surplus.

“There’s actually been an increase in night time activity thanks to us removing those highly damaging parking charges. What you intend to do is to reintroduce them and stifle the night time economy in this town.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter