Visitors to Eastleigh will once more be able to enjoy free on street parking for a limited time.
Eastleigh Local Area Committee – who have recently become responsible for setting parking charges in the town centre – voted for an experimental traffic order to allow free on- street parking for one hour along High St and Market St Monday 2 Dec to Friday 28 February.
Charges for two hour parking and evening periods will rise by 10 pence but all other parking charges, including residents parking permits, will be frozen follwing a consultation with Eastleigh Town Centre Partnership.
The scheme was proposed by Councillor Wayne Irish who said the aim was to promote economic growth in the town centre by increasing footfall along Market Street and High St.
Councillor Maureen Sollitt said:
“As somebody who does use the town centre a lot during the afternoons between three and five, I must agree that the footfall through the town is very low at that time.
“I think this is a good way to encourage people to come into town for an hour.”
As in many other towns, the effect of parking charges on town trade has been a hot topic in Eastleigh.
Parking charges are a major source of income for councils who have been forced to freeze council tax by the government
In 2011 Eastleigh Borough Council introduced charges for disabled drivers and Sunday parking.
Winchester Council – which was also Lib Dem controlled at the time – introduced Sunday charges as well but these were later overturned when the Conservatives regained control.
Eastleigh Conservative opposition group had proposed free parking during the Eastleigh council budget debate earlier in the year but it had met with a lukewarm response from the ruling Lib Dems with Cllr Bloom saying the figures “didn’t add up”.
Earlier this month in response to a question on free parking from Conservative Cllr Judith Grajewski Council Leader Keith House said that annual revenue from parking was £325,000, the loss of which would be the equivalent of a 5% increase in council tax.
Cllr Grajewski told Eastleigh News last night:
“It seems that the Lib Dems are beginning to come round to our way of thinking.”