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Car parking rises would be "body blow" for retailers, warns politician
PROPOSALS to increase car parking charges in Worcester have been lambasted as a “body blow to retailers” by the opposition Tory group - which is calling for a climbdown.
Councillor Marc Bayliss, the Conservative’s deputy leader, says the move would be “lunacy” at a time when shop owners are still finding it tough going.
As your Worcester News revealed yesterday, from April the city council wants to scrap £1 parking after 7pm, axe the 30-minute rates which are as low as 40p, and increase some four-hour prices from £5 to £6.
The proposals form part of the Labour leadership’s draft 2014/15 budget, which also includes a rise in cremation costs, from £610 to £700.
Coun Bayliss said: “It’s the wrong policy, it’s bad for Worcester and great for the likes of Cheltenham, Birmingham and Solihull - all those areas we’re competing with.
“I do fear that it will force more cars down into residential areas and side streets for people that need to come in to work, and that it will be a body-blow for retailers.
“We think it’s complete lunacy.
"It’s not what anyone wants to hear, especially in the run-up to Christmas.”
The city’s Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, say they are prepared to give the draft budget their backing when it comes to the vote.
Lib Dem group leader Councillor Liz Smith, who sits in the Labour cabinet, said she had been involved in the discussions before it was published.
“Personally I think the crematorium should be sold off, it really does require a lot of capital investment on a frequent basis,” she said.
“If they don’t put the prices up there, they won’t generate enough money to invest.
“There was no evidence the £1 parking charge (after 7pm) led to an increase in people using them after that time, and a similar thought process went on with the 30-minute tariff.”
The Labour leadership says it wants to encourage people using the car parks to spend more time in Worcester by ending the 30-minute option.
Councillor Richard Boorn, the cabinet member responsible for finance, said: “We recently revealed our vision for Worcester as a city of ambition, a city of opportunity and a city where no one is left behind.
“This budget is designed to help us deliver that vision while continuing to provide the quality services that our residents have a right to expect.”
The 2014/15 budget aims to save £974,000 in total, mainly due to a 15 per cent cut in Government funding.
It includes ramping up charges for garden waste collections to £47, a £10 rise for the 5,000 customers who currently get it.
It will be debated by the cabinet on Tuesday and will require a vote at full council in February following a consultation.
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