Drivers face parking charge hike in Tameside to deter workers ‘hogging spots’
Parking currently only costs £1 to park for up to three hours in all the borough’s car parks
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The cost of parking is to rise across Tameside as leaders say they want more short term shoppers and not workers hogging town centre spots ‘without spending a penny in the town centre’.
Members of the executive cabinet have agreed to increase car parking tariffs in the borough as part of an effort to provide a ‘shoppers charter’ and encourage a turnover of spaces.
The aim is to get workers to park in ‘long stay’ designated car parks, while people coming to shop or visit attractions in town centres would make use of central ‘short stay’ car parks.
Currently it costs £1 to park for up to three hours in all the borough’s car parks, as well as overnight after 6pm, and £2 for all day parking.
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At both short and long stay locations tariffs will now increase to £1.50 for one hour, £2.50 for two hours and £3.50 for three hours.
These will apply at sites where 27 payment machines have been upgraded to accept contactless and card payments, however where they continue to be cash only, the fee will be £2 for between one and three hours.
At a short stay car park an all day fee will now stand at £9, but be capped at £4 in designated long stay locations. The cost of overnight and all-day Sunday parking will remain at £1 across all sites.
Meanwhile the cost of a five day annual car parking pass will double from £250 to £500, and a seven day contract pass will also increase from £328 to £600. These will now only allow people to park in long stay car parks.
The new charges will come into effect on August 2.
Tameside council leader Ged Cooney told the meeting that when travelling between Droylsden and Ashton he sees a central car park ‘full’ at 8.30am.
“There isn’t a shopper in there – they’re workers. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but if anyone thinks that’s going to help the economy here, it isn’t. It’s full at 8.30am and it’s still full at 4pm,” he said.
“They will spend some money but in a lot of cases they may bring their butties with them. It doesn’t help the shops at all round here.
“We’re encouraging people to park a little further out and then shoppers to come in and park for up to three hours in the town centre. Come and do your shopping, and when you drive up you can find a spot.
“The most important thing is that this will now free up spaces, so that if I want to come and shop here I can and know that in likelihood there will be a space.”
He added: “We understand the need for businesses to thrive and we understand that they need customers. This is a Tameside policy across the whole of Tameside.
“All day parking for those who work here is £4 for the day. That’s not bad is it. You don’t want people blocking car parks because that stops shoppers. Who would want to pay £9?
“We don’t want you here [in central car parks] for nine hours. We don’t want you getting there at eight, blocking anyone else and going home at five if you’ve not spent a penny in the town centre.”
Increasing the cost of Tameside’s car parks will bring the borough in line with other Greater Manchester neighbours and also increase the amount of surplus income to fund highways improvements, the council says.
Emma Varnam, assistant director of operations and neighbourhoods said: “It is a shoppers charter, we are encouraging turnover in spaces in our short stay car parks to maximise those spaces for shoppers and easily accessible long stay car parking spaces at a reasonable charge for all day for commuters and workers who are working within Tameside.
“We have long stay car parks that are actually very close to the centre.”
Executive member for planning, transport and connectivity, Councillor Jan Jackson said: “We want to encourage shoppers. We want to support retail and businesses.”
However Coun John Taylor said the council had previously got parking plans for the borough ‘right’. “I see it that we’re trying to mend something that’s not broken,” he added.
Councillors and town hall staff had been parking for free across Tameside since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, a report earlier this year revealed.
It stated that following the first coronavirus lockdown in the UK, in April 2020 Tameside council suspended charges for parking passes for its staff, its partner organisation – then called the Clinical Commissioning Group – Tameside College and elected members.
A charging system was reintroduced at the beginning of October, after more than two years in which staff and councillors could park for free in all council-owned car parks in Hyde, Denton, Droylsden, Mossley, Stalybridge and Dukinfield, and ‘outer zone’ car parks in Ashton-under-Lyne.
However Coun Cooney told the latest meeting that a further review would take place meaning that councillors and Tameside council staff would pay the same rates as residents. “No one will be treated any differently, whether it be a politician, officer or member of the public,” he added. “And quite rightly so.”