Hastings on-street parking charge increase decision to be made

On-street parking charges are set to rise from April
On-street parking charges are set to rise from April

East Sussex County Council looks set to increase the cost of on-street parking for the first time in more than a decade, as it looks to encourage ‘more sustainable travel choices’.

Next Monday (January 20), East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment Claire Dowling will consider proposals to increase pay and display parking charges in Eastbourne, Hastings and Lewes.

According to council officers, these proposals would see on-street hourly pay and display charges increase by between 20p and £1.90 across the three towns.

In most cases the cost of parking would either double or almost double.

Cllr Dowling is also expected to consider proposals to standardise the price of residents’ parking permits for the first time, with the cost to be tied to the vehicle’s CO2 emissions. 

Under the new system, the cost of a first permit would be between £15 and £95 per year in all three areas.

In a statement released ahead of the meeting, the council’s director for transport and environment Rupert Clubb said: “With car ownership increasing, parking pressures can exacerbate congestion in our town centres and significantly reduce air quality.

“These proposals are about influencing driver behaviour and encouraging people to consider alternative forms of transport.

“Changes to permit charges would result in a fairer system in which permits cost the same regardless of where in the county you live, with motorists driving low emission vehicles paying less.

“Increasing on-street car parking charges would also encourage motorists to use town centre car parks rather than on-street spaces, helping us better manage demand.”

As a result of the new standardised permit parking scheme, some residents will see their charges increase more than others.

For example, charges for first permits in Hastings would either remain the same or reduce for residents with lower emission vehicles, while the majority of motorists in Eastbourne are expected to pay more for their annual permits. 

This part of the proposals came in for some criticism during the public consultation, however, with most respondents to an online survey saying they disagreed with aligning all charges with those in Lewes.

According to council papers, just 12 per cent of the 2,161 respondents agreed or strongly agreed with this part of the proposal, while more than 59 per cent either disagreed or strongly disagreed.

A further 114 respondents specifically argued it was unfair to compare the ‘demographically different’ areas.

Most respondents (82.37 per cent) also said they disagreed with moves to increase the cost pay and display.

A large number of concerns were also raised about the cost and reliability of bus (568 residents) and train travel (280 residents) as an alternative to car travel.

However, the consultation also found that the majority of respondents thought the council should both take measures to reduce congestion in town centres (54.33 per cent) and improve air quality (66.64 per cent).

Most (57.75 per cent) also agreed that the council should take measures to encourage the use of more sustainable modes of transport and use vehicles that emit lower levels of pollution.

If approved, the new parking charges are likely to come into effect by the end of April and be subject to an annual review.

According to the council, the increased charges would be used to cover the cost of the parking scheme, with any surplus ring-fenced for use on transport and highways initiatives, such as the cost of concessionary bus passes and subsidised bus services.

The county council pointed out how there are more than 5,000 spaces in off-street car parks across Eastbourne, Lewes and Hastings which are operated by district and borough councils and are not part of this review offering cheaper and longer stay options.

If approved, the new parking charges are likely to come into effect by the end of April and be subject to an annual review.