Car parking charges in Exeter are set to rise by 10 per cent from April to support the City Council’s aim of reducing congestion, while helping it to balance its budget.
A report due to be discussed by councillors next week reveals that the council cannot support its aim of reducing congestion in the city centre without “reasonable and regular increases in tariffs”.
A key strategic priority for Exeter is to tackle congestion and accessibility, where sustainable means of travel are safer, cheaper, quicker and more convenient than private car ownership.
The council is investing heavily on building a new Exeter Bus Station, with modern facilities for passengers, providing further encouragement to consider alternatives to driving into the city centre.
The increase in car parking charges of 10 per cent is expected to generate an increase of £764,000 on the 2018/19 target car park income budget.
That income is crucial because further central government funding reductions mean the council has to find additional savings of £3.9 million over the next two financial years.
The report states that any increases in car parking charges must be balanced alongside the accompanying strategic aims of:
- Maintaining an income stream to help fund essential services
- Reducing congestion
- Ensuring car parks contribute to economic growth
- Improving the city centre environment
- Promoting sustainable travel
- Maximising the capacity of existing council assets
Fears that previous increases in car parking charges would adversely impact on the numbers coming into the city centre have proved unfounded. Parking data for the past 12 months indicates a four per cent rise in the number of vehicles using council car parks.
In 2017 the council greatly reduced the longer stay options, and the proposed new tariffs from April 2019 are still below those in 2010 for vehicles parking for five, six and seven hours.
The report also recommends changes to the free car park serving King George V Playing Fields, which is constantly at capacity, with many vehicles parking there all day. The only existing restriction is for cars not to remain for more than 24 hours.
To help ensure access to the Playing Fields is maintained for recreational users, a Parking Places Order regulating the site should be amended to restrict parking to a maximum of four hours. There will continue to be no charge for parking at this site.
The report is due to be discussed by members of the council’s Place Scrutiny Committee on 17 January.