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Southernhay workers protest as cost of parking set to double

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

All change: The Magdalen Street car park will change from long to short stay

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WORKERS in Southernhay have expressed concerns about new car parking charges which are likely to come into force next week.

Both Howell Road and Magdalen Road (formerly Fairpark) are to become short-stay car parks, with the cost of parking for two to three hours almost doubling from £1.70 to £3.30.

Many employees of firms in Southernhay with Exeter City Council season tickets use these car parks, but will no longer be able to do so once their permits expire.

They claim the changes are being made to "accommodate short term visitors to the city in order to increase revenue rather than looking after the needs of local people who live and work in Exeter".

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Several also claim the consultation on the matter was poorly advertised, with many only finding out the changes were to be made when the period for making an objection was almost at an end.

The Echo revealed the proposed changes last year, with the city council saying the move, which affects a number of other car parks, resulted from recommendations by a cross-party working group.

Several dozen employees of Southernhay firms have objected to the move and, in a pro forma letter, revealed their concerns.

They said: "The legally required notice relating to the proposed changes is displayed on ticket machines, which season ticket holders do not use. The council holds full address details for all season ticket holders but has not written to them so the consultation is flawed.

"There is already ample provision for short stay users to the city centre, but very limited long-stay provision. This is clear from the numerous problems residents have faced and has seen an ever-increasing area covered by residential parking permits. The council's proposal will further exacerbate this problem by reducing the number of long-stay spaces by 536."

The letter adds that alternative long-stay options, like the Triangle, and Quay, are felt to be unsuitable due to distance and limited opening hours. It also notes that the changes will effect "the vulnerable and low income court users who can ill afford to pay double the price to attend the courts".

Charges at 10 city council car parks will remain unchanged, including Guildhall, John Lewis and Mary Arches.

And charges at seven car parks, including Holman Way in Topsham and Okehampton Street in Exeter are set to decrease. In Okehampton Street, the cost of parking for three to four hours will drop from £1.70 to £1.20.

The changes are due to come into effect on January 21.

Derek Phillips, vice president of Exeter Chamber of Commerce, said: "The chamber has some concerns which we raised at our regular quarterly meeting with the city council on Monday."

Rachel Sutton, city councillor responsible for transport, said: "Putting up car parking charges is never going to be a popular move. We need to, like all businesses, make our assets work.

"Our funding from the Government is steadily declining. And because we own our car parks, that income helps us to keep council tax low for Exeter residents."

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