Huntingdonshire District Council has put on hold a proposal to increase the cost of car parking after outrage from members of the public and councillors alike.
Last month, council members put forward a proposal to raise charges for both short stay and long stay parking across the district, which would have included 22 car parks in Huntingdon, St Ives and St Neots.
But after a number of negative responses to a planned consultation, Councillor Robin Howe, leader of the council, has asked officers to “maintain charges at their present level until further notice”.
“I believe we must ensure the economic health of our towns is given priority, and work with the various stakeholders and agencies involved to identify ways of achieving this,” Cllr Howe said.
“To this end I have decided to form a task force, which I will head, comprising representatives from each market town, key officers and elected members, including Councillor Darren Tysoe, the portfolio holder for parking services.”
As a part of the group’s work, a district-wide review of the council’s parking strategy will be carried out which will aim to provide flexible and cost-effective parking.
This will involve changes to technology and an increase in investment by the authority which Cllr Howe expects to lead to a change in parking method from pay and display to pay on exit, which is hoped to offer “sufficient incentive to support town centre activity”.
These plans will be developed over the next six months and announced in late 2017.
The council has stressed that parking charges will not be increased until work is completed by the task force and proposals are accepted by market town representatives.
The original plans were deemed to be “extremely competitive” by Cllr Tysoe but many feared that the charges could have driven town centre visitors away.
Under the plans, rates could have risen by 20p in short stay car parks and 30p for long stay parking.
Currently the council ear ns £2.5million each year in parking charges but if the plans are put back on the table it could collect a further £250,000 by 2020.