REBEL councillors have called for a charge in seafront car parks around Bognor Regis to be frozen for residents.
They rejected a recommendation to back a six per cent increase in the cost of the shortest stays at the three sites.
The rare move by the Arun District Council members of all parties on its environment and leisure working group means Arun’s Conservative cabinet member for neighbourhood services, Cllr Paul Wotherspoon, has to decide which fee should be included in the consultation.
Whatever his decision, the proposed charges will be open for discussion for six weeks. Any changes in the fees are set to come into force from this May.
Cllr Paul English (C, Felpham E) led the calls for the cost of visits of up to one hour at the Arun-owned car parks to be kept the same.
He said: “Looking at it in a logical fashion, I would like to see the present charge kept frozen at £1.50. That will encourage people to walk along the seafront. They will come back to do that.
“That is enough time for them to use the facilities along the seafront.
“This is more for the local residents because all the beach hut owners and all those who want to go sailing and who stay longer will have a budget to pay for parking. Hopefully, this will be seen by the residents we are trying to help them.”
“I would like to see the charges for longer stays go up even further after two hours.”
The proposal debated by Arun’s environment and leisure working group on Tuesday concerned three sites around Bognor Regis – Rock Gardens (14 parking bays) and Gloucester Road (130 bays) in the town and Culver Road (50 bays) in Felpham as well as six locations in Littlehampton.
It was intended to increase the charge for stays of up to one hour from £1.50 to £1.60, up to two hours from £3 to £3.20 and for longer visits from £7 to £7.40.
One site in Littlehampton would see its longer stays cost £8.40. The charging period lasts from March 31 to October 1 in the Bognor Regis area sites.
Joe Russell-Wells, the council’s goup head of neighbourhood services, said: “All the car park charges except for the seasonal winter charges were increased on April 1, 2016. There has been no increase in the current financial year.
“The council’s financial strategy requires the income in the car parks’ budget for 2018/19 parking to increase by £29,228. This is based on the Retail Price Index (inflation) of 2.5 per cent.
“An increase in the summer season charge of between 5.7 per cent and 6.6 per cent would achieve the required additional income.”
Cllr Dr James Walsh (LD, Beach) said: “These increases are twice the rate of inflation. We should keep the one hour charge at the level it is now. The proposal is to do that which will benefit local residents.
“People tend to use those car parks for short stays for all sorts of reasons and we should try to keep that charge.”
Cllr James Brooks (I, Marine) said: “My main problem is that we are just putting charges up. There is no strategy and there’s no relationship with on-street parking. The whole principle of parking is to get people off the streets. But it is cheaper to park in Gloucester Road than off street. We ought to have a strategy with the county council about that.”
Cllr Ian Buckland (LD, River) said: “We should freeze the charge at £1.50.”
Meanwhile, West Sussex County Council has scrapped bank holiday exemptions for the controlled parking zone it runs on many roads around central Bognor Regis.
The changes came into effect last Thursday and mean motorists who park in the zone from 9am to 5pm on bank holidays will be charged. Previously, since the scheme was launched in the 1990s, it had only applied between the same times on Mondays to Saturdays. The charges are £3.50 for ten two-hour visitors’ permits or £7 for five daily permits.
The affected roads are: Albert Rd, Argyle Rd, Belmont St, Campbell Rd, Canada Grove, Chapel St, Clarence Rd, Crescent Rd, Den Ave, East Lane, Fitzleet car park access road, Gibson Way, Glamis St, Gloucester Rd, Lennox St, London Rd, Lyon St, Merchant St, Queensway, Regis Court, Richmond Rd N, Scott Close, Spencer St, Station Rd, Steyne St, Sudley Gardens, Sudley Rd, Sutherland Close, The Esplanade, The Steyne, Walton Ave, Walton Rd, Waterloo Sq, West St and William St.
There are also a host of changes to the layout of the waiting restrictions in many of the roads. These include the ‘school keep clear’ markings in London Rd and Glamis St.