Reopening of car parks.
Cllr Tim Gwilliam speaks on the Forest of Dean District's car parks.
As our high streets are reopening this week, we are reintroducing charges for parking and parking enforcement. We are continuing to provide free parking for NHS staff through the summer.
Charging both gives us an income to pay for parking management and helps us manage how people park. It also provides a budget for the upkeep of the car parks. No one likes paying to park but no one likes being unable to find a parking space either. The charges that come in today were set in April but have not been implemented during full lockdown. They remain amongst the lowest in the country. The FODDC car parks still operate at a loss despite this increase.
That said we wish to support our high street recovery and as such are proposing that every Saturday until September there will be free parking in our town centre car parks.
We have considered a number of options for our car parks including the possible sale to a private contractor but believe that if the car parks were indeed owned privately they would be much more expensive for the public to use.
I have asked officers to provide me with a breakdown of the costs and income for each car park and once they are available we are happy to discuss with Town Councils ways we can mitigate these costs.
I have also asked officers to provide at least 5 spaces in each town centre car park that are free for a 15 minute visit. This is so the shopper who wishes to buy a newspaper or post a letter in the post office does not have to pay 50p.
Our Regeneration Team and other officers are working hard, alongside Town Councils, to support the safe reopening of our town centres and will continue to support local traders. As part of that campaign we are exploring how we can link the cost of parking to incentives to shop local, producing a win-win for the shopper.
We have already introduced safety measures, based on the current government guidelines, in our town centres; these include things like pedestrian one way systems and social distancing signage. We are exploring how to create pedestrian refuge spaces within the on street parking bays - to allow people to queue and pass each other safely at some of the more obvious pinch points. Please follow these guidelines and help make shopping in the towns of the Forest of Dean a safe experience for shopkeepers and customers alike.