MEMBERS and employees of Huntingdonshire District Council will have to pay to park their cars to attend meetings or go to work when charges are introduced after April. Part of a new three-year parking strategy expected to be approved by the council s cabi
MEMBERS and employees of Huntingdonshire District Council will have to pay to park their cars to attend meetings or go to work when charges are introduced after April.
Part of a new three-year parking strategy expected to be approved by the council's cabinet at the end of January involves introducing charges for long-stay car parks at Huntingdon's Riverside and Bridge Place, in Godmanchester, as well as limiting stays to 10 hours.
And a cross-party working group has concluded it would be unfair to employees of other organisations in the town centre if HDC employees and councillors were singled out for special treatment in council-owned car parks.
When the council's £16.5million headquarters redevelopment is complete, there will be only about 30 spaces on the site. Council officers, who are encouraged to travel to work by public transport, by bicycle, on foot or to share cars, will have to park elsewhere if they drive to work.
The 10-hour time limit is aimed at freeing up spaces currently taken early in the morning by rail commuters. From April, London rail commuters will have to park at the station or take the bus.
The charge at Riverside will also mean employees of social landlord the Luminus Group, which has built houses on its own car park, will have to pay.
The departure of the council's depot from Godmanchester last September to new premises off the A141 in Latham Road has also freed up scores of spaces previously used by HDC workers.
Now the old depot has been demolished, 260 extra spaces have been created there, a short walk across the river from the town centre, and a vital boost for Christmas shoppers last month.
The move should see the value of retail premises at the eastern end of the High Street, between St Mary's Church and the Old Bridge, rise sharply with the additional passing trade.
Huntingdon has by far the most pressing parking problems of the district's four market towns. They should be alleviated to some extent if the planning application to redevelop Chequers Court, due soon from the land's owner Churchmanor Estates, includes a multi-storey car park.
HDC wants a hugely expanded commercial and residential town centre, taking in all the land between the current centre and the railway, including a new link road between Ermine Street and the railway station, and parking is a vital part of the mix.
Long-stay parking is likely to cost £1.50 a day in Huntingdon - time-limited to discourage rail commuters - and short-stay charges are likely to rise by one-third, for example from 30p to 40p for the first hour.
That may seem steep but it will still cost a fraction in Huntingdon of the prices charged in any of the nearby city centres.
Mill Common will become short-stay only and workers with season tickets will no longer be allowed to park within the ring road.
The only free parking in Huntingdon town centre will be for disabled people, and HDC plans to crack down on abuse of blue badges.
There will also be trials of new ticket machines that accept credit cards, better signing on the ring road and messages to tell drivers which car parks have spaces, as in Cambridge and Peterborough.
And there could be reduced season ticket prices for low-emission vehicles on the same basis as Vehicle Excise Duty.
Meanwhile, the council has been talking to train operator First Capital Connect and Network Rail, which owns the land, about putting a second deck on part of the west-side car park at the station to increase the number of spaces there.
Because the southern end of the car parks on both sides of the railway lies so low, there would be little visual intrusion, planners believe.