Councillors have agreed to increase parking charges in Melton from April 1 but shoppers will be able to park for free for up to 20 minutes in St Mary’s Way car park only (except on Tuesdays) in a block of 10 marked out spaces during a six-month pilot.
The cost of an hour’s short stay parking will rise from 70p to 80p, £1.40 to £1.60 for up to two hours and £2 to £2.60 for up to three hours. Up to four hours’ parking in the council’s short stay car parks will cost £3.
Short stay parking on Tuesdays is also going up, with visitors having an additional option of parking for up to 20 minutes for 20p. One hour’s short stay parking on Tuesdays will rise from £1.10 to £1.30, from £2.20 to £2.50 for up to two hours and from £3.30 to £3.70 for up to three hours.
The new long stay car parking charges will be £1.50 for up to three hours and £3.50 for all day. On Tuesdays the new charges will be £3 for up to three hours and £4 for all day.
The cost of a weekly ticket will rise from £7 to £12 and season ticket prices will go up from £180 to £220 (six months) and from £330 to £390 (12 months). Monthly season tickets will be available for £40.
Following feedback and considerable objections from the public, workers and town businesses, councillors backtracked on plans to re-designate most of the Burton Street car park into short stay, but retaining some area for long stay.
Instead they’ve approved plans to keep most of Burton Street car park as long stay, with the triangular shaped car park nearest the council’s Parkside offices becoming short stay.
Other changes coming into effect from April 1 will be removing the current one-hour tariff at the Mill Street car park - clarifying its long stay status - and weekly tickets will be able to used in any of the long stay car parks.
Many of the people who gave their views during the council’s public consultation supported the free 20 minutes parking, with some calling for it to be extended to half-an-hour or more - a preference shared by some councillors also.
There were also strong objection to the £7 to £12 rise in the cost of a weekly ticket, a view shared by some councillors also, with one town employee describing it as ‘an absolute rip-off’. There was also strong support for introducing alternative and more flexible ways to pay.
Members of the council’s rural, economic and environmental affairs committee were told on Thursday that county council highways officers had raised strong concerns about extending the free 20 minutes car parking to all of Melton’s short stay car parks, as well as extending the free parking period, because they felt it would make enforcement more difficult and could add to congestion.
St Mary’s Way car park was chosen for the free 20 minutes parking pilot as officers felt that, due to its location, it was more likely to attract usage compared to other town centre car parks.
Melton Council, which last increased its car park charges in 2012, says any additional revenue generated from the increased charges will be used to fund future car park improvements.