Parking charges look set to double in Dunstable

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Community campaigners are ‘disappointed’ after plans to raise car parking charges in Dunstable were give the green light.

Dunstable councillors last week won concessions to a dramatic rise in car parking charges in the town but the cost of parking could still rise by 100% from January.

Sharon Warboys from Don’t Let Dunstable Die said: “We are very disappointed that they are putting the parking charges up.

“We were hoping forsomething like free after 3pm or free for the first hour.”

Central Beds Council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee last week considered raising parking from 50p to £1.50 for two hours for council-owned car parks.

Dunstable councillors from both Central Beds and Dunstable Town Councils expressed concern at the rises.

Cllr Carole Hegley and Cllr Gloria Martin (chairman and vice chairman of the Dunstable Joint Committee respectively) told the meeting Dunstable was still reporting a 19% retail vacancy rate against an average 7% for Central Beds and 2% for Leighton Buzzard.

Among the issues raised by Dunstable councillors was the need to acknowledge the economic fragility of the town centre and its modest upturn, the concern about displacement of more customers on to neighbouring residential roads, the burden of additional charges to the town’s loyal customer base, and included a suggestion that Central Beds review other charges shown at 0% increase in the proposals, to share cost increases more evenly.

After a lengthy discussion and debate the committee recommended to implement an increase of 50p, from 50p to £1 for two hours from January 2016 and to introduce new ‘pay on exit’ parking machines from August 2016, which were also part of the proposal.

The fees and charges item now goes before Full Council at Central Beds on November 19.

Cllr Hegley is holding a Dunstable councillor market surgery on November 7 at Dunstable market from 10-12 noon or you can email her at carolehegley@btconnect.com with comments about the proposals