Unpopular evening parking charges plan looks set to stay

Deeply unpopular plans to introduce “insane” charges for evening seafront parking in Southend look set to go ahead despite a 500-signature petition.

Philip Miller, owner of Adventure Island, fears the charges will deter visitors and has launched the petition after the previous Tory administrations budget was “hijacked” by opposition and 6pm to 9pm charges proposed.

A new Labour-led joint administration is looking likely after the Tories lost seats at this month’s election and Daniel Cowan, Labour leader, believes visitors to the city’s seafront must be forced to pay their share to help balance the budget.

Mr Miller said: “Considering it’s such a palaver to even fill the form in, 500 signatories all from Southend reflects how strong the depth of feeling is against these exorbitant charges. If they go through with this insanity Southend will be the most expensive seaside to park in the whole of the UK.”

Mr Miller added: “There is no need to raise charges at all if they would only implement the action plan I sent in last year showing nearly 500 extra spaces which will bring in far more than any increase will ever do.”

An extraordinary council meeting will be held on Monday where a vote of no confidence in current Tory council leader, Tony Cox, will be held. If successful, a new council leader will be elected.
Cllr Cowan said: “We need to see what state the council’s finances are in post the meeting. We are already talking to council officers about some of our service levels and we’re finding budgets are already tight because of decisions that were made.”

Cllr Cowan did not rule out the Cliffs Pavilion car park being added to the scheme when it was previously exempt.

He said: “These are all things we will take a look at. I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of a petition. I believe it’s still running until the middle of June and it will then need to be considered by cabinet.

“The position has always been if we can find a way to balance this in a way that brings in the revenue the council needs to reinvest in services whilst balancing the weight of it more towards our visitors rather than our residents then that’s what we’ll seek to do.”

Martin Terry, leader of the Independent Group added: “I think there are some adjustments regarding the zoning to be made but it’s only right that the people who visit the town should pay towards the services they procure.

“We are facing the situation where we are having to make cuts to services that city taxpayers need to subsidise things that day trippers use.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter

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