UPDATED: Council chief defends rise in car park fees

Exchange Street car park
Exchange Street car park

Charges at the popular Exchange Street car park will rise by up to 50%, while evening tariffs are also being scrapped in a shake-up of fees in Aylesbury.

Changes agreed by full council earlier this week sees a 30 minute stay at Exchange Street rise from 50p to 80p. Up to an hour will increase from £1 to £1.50; three hours £2 to £2.50; four hours £3.50 to £4.

Charges for longer stays at Exchange Street have not changed and cinema users are still entitled to a refund from 6pm, Monday to Saturday, and anytime on Sunday.

At the Aqua Vale car park, a two-hour stay will now cost £2 rather than £1, while four hours rises to £6 from £3 and 24 hours £10 from £6. However, people using Aqua Vale are entitled to a refund.

Hourly fees at other car parks have not changed, and nor has the cost of annual permits.

However, Aylesbury Vale District Council is also putting up Sunday and public holiday charges across all its car parks from £1 to £1.50. It is scrapping the £1 evening charge at all its Aylesbury car parks, meaning day rates will apply up until 9pm, after which it will be free until 8am the next day.

The changes will come into force during the summer, although no firm date has been set.

Conservative councillors agreed the charges as part of its 2015/16 budget on Wednesday, when it also voted to freeze council tax and most other council charges. The Lib Dems and Labour abstained, while UKIP and independent councillor Peter Cooper voted against.

Lib Dem district leader Steven Lambert said he was against the increase.

He said: “It’s one of the most regressive taxes you can levy as even though it’s a small change, it psychologically puts people off from coming to the town to shop or socialise.

“Its retrograde and detracts from the stated aim of encouraging people to come into Aylesbury to shop and socialise.

“One of our manifesto points is to fully review car park charges to remove car park charges on late night shopping nights and Sundays, with a return to the flat £1 fee for two hours outside of that time.”

UKIP councillor Phil Yerby called the increase in charges ‘disgraceful’.

He said: “It’s a huge increase. It is a tax on jobs and a tax on town centre businesses.”

He said if UKIP win the district elections in May, they would scrap all short terms car parking charges in the Vale, paid for by cutting most of the £600,000 subsidy for the theatre.

Councillor Brian Roberts, cabinet member for civic amenities, said: “As part of our car parking strategy, we have kept any increases in Aylesbury to an absolute minimum.

“The last time the car parks had any significant increase was 2007. Since then we have introduced a charge for all day parking on Sundays, and a flat rate evening charge.

“Income from car parks covers the cost of providing the facilities including maintenance, security lighting and enforcement.

“Aylesbury is a vibrant and popular town, and we want to continue to encourage a steady turnover of people to come into the area to support local businesses and keep the economy buoyant. Even with these modest increases, we believe our car parking charges are still extremely competitive and offer value for money.”