2nd January 2017
By Anne North

A row is brewing over plans to introduce parking meters in some of Cornwall's main town centres.

Saltash Town Council is the latest to say it is strongly opposed to the Cornwall Council proposal for Fore Street.  Councillors fear the meters could impact on trade.

Cornwall Council wants to introduce a parking charge between 4pm and 11.30pm, and increase from 50p to 70p the cost of up to an hour’s parking.

Although the formal deadline for public consultation closed before Christmas, the town council is urging residents to continue to lobby County Hall direct.

The town council said: "The introduction of a 4pm to 11.30pm parking charge would cause serious damage to our night-time economy and overall trading which will inevitably suffer particularly in view of the nature of Saltash's fragile shopping economy and the ongoing effect on it from the works at Carkeel and the proximity of Plymouths night time shopping availability.

"It is likely Saltash as a shopping destination will decline immeasurably if this charge is introduced. It is likely this charge will also have the effect of displacing into the surrounding streets cars of residents using the car parks for evening and overnight parking.

"This council has been very concerned about parking charges in the past to such an extent that it has introduced a Saltash parking scheme for a two hour parking payback scheme in cooperation with the shopkeepers.

“Saltash Town Council also wishes to make it known that it strongly objects to the installation of parking meters on Fore Street.

"It considers that they will have a negative effect on both the actual footfall on the street and on the perceptions of passing drivers who will be reluctant to stop and shop. Furthermore the council can find no evidence at all that meters aid footfall.

"The council, the Chamber of Commerce, the CIC and the traders face a continual battle to maintain the viability of the street because of the proximity of the Plymouth shopping centre, the huge numbers of out of town retail stores across the bridge and the five minute bus service into Plymouth from Fore Street.

"It is an uneven battle and increased car parking charges, extending the charging day and on top of that installing meters would worsen an already very fragile Fore Street economy."

The idea of parking meters in towns’ main streets is highly controversial within County Hall.  One Cornwall Council cabinet member, Andrew Wallis, blogged recently of his opposition to the proposal.  “Charging to park on the high-street is something I fundamentally disagree with,” he said. “It is nothing more than a further taxation on the public and is purely financially driven. The proposal set out in the report estimates a surplus of £330k will be raised per year through the utilisation of the 1,029 existing limited waiting bays and 220 newly creative on-street parking bays in the seven towns.

“If this goes ahead, I believe it will harm the already under-threat high-street and will just drive people to out-of-town supermarkets or to on-line shopping – which in the last few years has seen a massive rise in use. If it starts in the seven towns, you can bet as the sun rises and sets each day, this will be rolled out to other towns. This will be a disaster to local town and village economies.”