COUNCILLORS have demanded changes to parking fees in Windsor as “extortionate” rates are “driving people away” from the town.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is considering ‘significantly’ raising parking charges, which are still below inflation, across the borough to gain additional income.
But councillors sitting on the corporate overview and scrutiny meeting on Monday, January 30, believed raising the fees any further will drive people away from the town centres, particularly in Windsor as residents are already paying the same as tourists are.
For example, the River Street car park in Windsor could soon charge £9.10 for two hours, up by 90p.
Although residents who hold an advantage card can get one hour free at selected two car parks in Windsor – Alexandra Gardens and Alma Road – councillors believed this isn’t attractive enough for residents to do their shopping in the historic town.
Independent group leader Lynne Jones (Old Windsor) said residents “deserve a better” discount and the status quo is “driving people away from Windsor”.
She said: “[Windsor] is a lovely place to visit but it’s becoming a place to visit if you got the money.”
Liberal Democrat leader Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green) said the “extortionate” parking fees are driving people away from Windsor town center and are going to Bracknell or Wokingham to do their shopping.
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He said: “The residents deserve to pay proper amounts for parking and not pay the same as the tourists.
“£9.10 is right [for tourists] but for the residents to have to pay that I think is a disgrace, and we absolutely commit to really improving the residents’ discount, especially in Windsor, but also in Maidenhead.”
He also said tourists should pay more for parking so residents can pay less.
Cllr Helen Price (TBFI: Clewer & Dedworth East) said putting the parking prices up will “adversely affect” businesses in Windsor as well.
But the panel’s chairman, Cllr Gerry Clark (Con: Bisham & Cookham) said there is no “magic money tree,” meaning if parking fees were not to be increased, they will have to be compensated somewhere else. This was echoed by the Royal Borough’s most senior financial officer Adele Taylor.
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Head of neighborhood services Alysse Strachan said it was “right” for the parking charges to reflect the different demands each car parks have. She also said there is still high demand for people parking in Windsor to shop.
Mrs Strachan said: “We do have the residents’ parking discount that is on offer for a couple of car parks in Windsor as well. So, hopefully, some of that increased charge there is balanced out by the residents’ discount that is available there for them.”
The panel agreed with Cllr Jones to urge the lead member for parking to consider reviewing the advantage card parking discount across the borough but especially in Windsor to see if residents can get some money off parking.