Business owner’s fight to stop hike in Hitchin car park charges

Christchurch car park in Hitchin.

Christchurch car park in Hitchin. - Credit: Daniel Wilson

A business owner has said that he will fight a council to the end in trying to stop a hike in proposed car park charges in Hitchin.

Mike Kershaw, alongside his Xchange Fitness business partner Martin Penny, believes North Herts District Council’s proposed price increases at the town’s council-owned car parks will have a negative impact on nightlife trade, St Mary’s Church and their own customers.

The council plans to introduce a new evening and overnight charge from 6pm-8am, as well as a Sunday charge, from November. Bank holidays will be unaffected.

Daytime charges will also increase depending on length of stay and location, but the charge of £1 for one hour of parking will remain in place at all car parks.

The proposed changes are set to trialled until April 2015 at all short-stay car parks in Hitchin.

Mr Kershaw said: “I’m horrified, this all seems like it has been pre-planned and the feeling is that it will continue past the trial period. There is a very short consultation period, but we will fight it to the end. The changes will mean that the bar and restaurants in the town will be affected, the Sunday service at the church could be affected. Paying an extra £1 on a £50 meal is peanuts and people will pay it begrudgingly, but gym members who use the gym three or four times a week will see an increase in the amount they pay each month because of the new charges. It is very unfair and we will fight for our customers.”

Council leader Lynda Needham said: “Hitchin is a vibrant and popular town, and we want to continue to encourage a steady turnover of people to come into the area to support local businesses and keep the economy buoyant. We are currently seeking the views of Hitchin councillors and Hitchin town centre management on the Sunday and evening tariff proposals. Subject to the outcome of this consultation, it is proposed to introduce the new charges in November.”

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Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins said: “I am very disappointed about this – it does seem that we are being penalised for being a successful town. I am also concerned about the consultation period. Why was this not put in the public domain so that it could be discussed with Hitchin councillors at the area committee meeting last week? It seems Hitchin has had to taken on the burden once again.”

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