Increase in town centre parking charges 'is no help to beleaguered shops clinging on'

Car Park on St George's Way in Stevenage

Parking charges at Stevenage's town centre car parks, including St George's, have increased - Credit: Jacob Savill

Parking charges in Stevenage town centre have increased from today, prompting concern the move could discourage shoppers and prove a body blow for businesses struggling to survive.

Stevenage Borough Council says the "painful decision" to increase parking charges is due to the pandemic's impact on the local authority, with commercial income more than halved.

Parking for up to one hour at the Westgate, Forum, St George's and Marshgate car parks has increased from £1.70 to £1.80, with up to two hours increasing from £2.50 to £2.60, up to three hours from £3.20 to £3.30 and up to five hours from £3.80 to £4. The evening/overnight rate remains £2.

The daily charge for the railway station car parks, Monday to Friday, has increased from £8.50 to £9 and the annual season ticket has increased from £1,812 to £1,920.

Charges have also increased at Swingate, Daneshill, Swingate South and Southgate car parks.

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One resident said: "It's not going to help the poor beleaguered shops clinging on. There's precious little in the town to draw people in that can't be got elsewhere, and much of it with free parking.

"Pricing the station parking like that is laughable. If the intention is to get people to cycle to the station, they need secure, looked-after cycle storage that is not just easy pickings for thieves."

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A Stevenage Indoor Market trader added: "It could deter customers from coming into our store when we can finally reopen. On the flip side, it may make some people use public transport more, which is more eco-friendly."

Councillor Lloyd Briscoe, the council's executive member for economy,  said: “SBC has taken the painful decision to increase some parking charges, but also freeze some and extend the free parking for NHS staff at Corey’s Mill Lane.

"The demands on SBC have increased massively over the pandemic as we try to support our residents, staff and businesses through this extremely challenging time. Our commercial income, which directly supports frontline services, is down over 50 per cent.

"The council will continue to support local business, the old and new town centres and neighbourhood centres, with support, grants, training schemes and, when allowed, reopening promotions.”

For the full list of parking charges, click here 

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