Councillors have backtracked on plans to axe concessionary parking permits for the over 65s, but are still planning to push ahead with proposals to raise charges in its car parks.
The contentious proposals were revealed in the Herald earlier this month, with the authority arguing that changes were needed to raise money and to protect the environment by discouraging private car use.
Critics however have been quick to slam the idea, drawing attention to recent controversial rises in councillor allowances and proposals to introduce charges for collecting green waste.
The authority has also been put under the spotlight recently for deciding to enlarge its management team, at an additional cost of around £111,000 per year.
During last week’s Cabinet meeting, members decided that the proposal to remove parking permits for pensioners needed to be reviewed, but general rises in fees across the council’s car parks were approved, subject to consultation.
While the over 65s parking permits will now stay, their cost may now be reviewed at a later date.
The proposed car park increases would see the rate for parking for up to one hour rise from £1 to £1.20, from £2 to £2.40 for 1-2 hours, from £3 to £3.50 for over 2-3 hours, from £4 to £5 for over 3-4 hours and from £6 to £8 for 4-9 hours.
The car parks affected would be the Arden Street car park, Bridgeway car parks, Church Street car park, the Leisure Centre car park, Swan’s Nest Lane car park, the Recreation Ground car park the Windsor Street car park and the Telegraph Street car park in Shipston.
There are no plans to introduce charges at the council’s free car parks in the district.
Cllr Ian Shenton, operations portfolio at Stratford District Council, said: “The amended proposals before The Cabinet reflect the views, opinions and representations that have been received. So taking on board and listening to the comments, at this stage we will now not be considering the withdrawal of the concessionary parking permits for the over 65s. The permits will now be reviewed as part of the overall process.”
Should the car parking increases go through as expected, it could be the beginning of a double whammy for motorists, with the county council also looking to increase the cost of resident parking permits and guesthouse visitor permits.
Reacting to the parking charges proposal, Joe Baconnet, director of Stratforward BID said: “We will be talking to our businesses about this and I expect they will be providing quite a robust response to these proposals, I don’t think this will do the town centre any favours.
“At least there will be a consultation on this, whether that will make a difference we will have to see. It is quite a big rise in the charges between 4-9 hours, I don’t think this will result in visitor numbers to Stratford falling off a cliff, but it might put some people off coming here, they may choose to go elsewhere.”
The council confirmed that the proposed parking charge rises would go out for statutory consultation shortly.