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Consultation will start on proposals to increase traffic turnover in crowded car parks

Published: Monday, 18 June, 2018

Stroud District Council will consult on measures designed to increase shoppers’ and visitors’ chances of finding a car parking space.

Introducing modest charges to some of Stroud District Council’s 37 car parks should stop drivers from blocking spaces for extended periods and attract more shoppers, a report considered by the Strategy and Resources Committee last night says.

The report, based on an independent consultant’s detailed research, highlights problems where spaces in free car parks are blocked out for extended periods. That means shoppers drive around looking for spaces in town centres where car parking is already at capacity or even above it.

The report to the committee highlighted that visitors and shoppers are the most important users of town centres because they increase economic vitality – therefore it is important that they can find car parking spaces which are not filled by town centre employees, residents or long stay visitors.

Charging can help the local economy by increasing the churn of visitors and shoppers, the report concludes. SDC-owned car parks in Minchinhampton and Cainscross were reviewed but ruled out because the survey for the consultant showed vacant capacity there. Twelve more car parks were not reviewed for charges because they are not near capacity.

Council leader Doina Cornell said after the meeting:

"We all want to see vibrant, thriving town centres which provide local jobs and support the local economy. The research shows that many car parks are at capacity, making it hard for shoppers and visitors to find a space. We want to make it easier for more people to find a space by introducing what are relatively modest charges, compared to other towns."

The proposed tariffs compare favourably to other similar towns – in Tetbury in neighbouring Cotswold district drivers pay 70p for an hour, £1.50 for two hours and £2.20 for three hours. In Bourton-on-the-Water charges start at £1.30 for an hour and rise to £3.90 for four hours.

Tariff proposals for Dursley, Nailsworth, Wotton-under-Edge and Stratford Park are lower - 50p for an hour, 80p for two hours and £1.20 for three hours. Charges for up to five hours in long stay SDC car parks are proposed at £2, and £2.50 for more than five hours.

It is proposed that visitors to Stratford Park Leisure Centre and the Museum in the Park can claim two hours of free parking on arrival by entering their vehicle registration number on a designated tablet in those buildings. The same concession is proposed for users of The Pulse leisure centre in Dursley who park in Castle Street car park.

To help drivers who cannot find the correct change for parking machines, the proposal going out for consultation includes contactless payment, plus electric vehicle charging points, improved bicycle parking and free parking after 3pm in specified car parks in Dursley, Nailsworth, Wotton-under-Edge, Stonehouse and Painswick. The maximum stay in Stonehouse and Cheapside car park in Stroud is proposed to rise to 72 hours to support rail commuters.

Under the proposals, parking permits will be available in all long stay car parks to allow frequent users to park at discounted rates, short stay car parks will have their maximum stay standardised to three hours, and all SDC-owned car parks where charges apply will remain free to use from 5pm until 8am.

The Strategy and Resources committee voted by a majority to approve the start of the statutory consultation process. Consultation starts tomorrow (Saturday, June 16) and has been extended from the statutory 21 days to six weeks.

After analysis of the feedback, a final report is expected to go before Strategy and Resources Committee on October 4. If the changes proposed are approved, they are set to be made in January 2019.

 

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