Investment in car parks promised but charges could rise for drivers

Princes Street Car Park, Huntingdon

Princes Street Car Park, Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

An investment worth hundreds of thousands of pounds in Huntingdonshire’s car parks could see a raft of new technology installed.

But a new charging regime to fund the work will mean drivers could end up paying more for their stay than is currently the case.

Huntingdonshire District Council has published the details of its long-awaited car parking review for the district, with several options currently being discussed by councillors.

The preferred option would see a ‘pay for what you use’ approach introduced, with a charging structure based on 15 minute intervals rather than hourly rates.

As an example, staying for up to an hour at Huntingdon’s Princes Street car park currently costs 80p, two hours costs £1.20, three hours costs £2.20, and four hours costs £3.20.

Under the proposed new structure, an hour’s stay would cost £1, an hour and 15 minutes would cost £1.20, an hour and 30 minutes would cost £1.40, an hour and 45 minutes would cost £1.60, and so on – adding 20p per 15 minutes up to a maximum of £3.40 for four hours in short stay car parks.

Long stay car parks start at £1.60 for two hours, increasing in increments of 10p per 15 minutes up to a maximum of £3 for 10 hours.

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The council will discuss the proposals for the first time at a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee tonight (Tuesday), with the plan scheduled to be signed off by the cabinet on February 14.

Under the council’s preferred option, car park users would input their registration number into a machine on arrival and display the ticket on the dashboard. When leaving, the ticket would be fed into the machine and a fee charged.

Introducing the technology required across all council car parks would cost up to £237,000 according to estimates. The council hopes to introduce card payments and an app payment system under this proposal.

Car park bays will also be widened to accommodate larger vehicles and more charging points for electric vehicles are planned.

Other options that have been put forward by the council, including the introduction of barrier controls and cameras to assist with enforcement, would cost an estimated £1.1million.

According to the district council’s projected budget for 2019/20, it hopes to raise an additional £225,000 through the new car park charges, with £300,000 raised annually from 2020/21 onwards.

It also hopes to use vacant space in Huntingdon bus station to introduce a series of short stay car park spaces, raising a projected £30,000 in 2019/20.

If the council’s cabinet approves the preferred option for new car parks in the district, the roll out of new technology could begin in some car parks from April.