The Civic Centre Car Park was invaded by traffic wardens at 18.50 hrs on January 7th, operating under the Conservatives new parking charges and revised times. One machine wasn’t working and the new charges sign was unlit. That didn’t stop them from issuing tickets. For there record, here is a list of the new prices and timings.

New timings and charges

Machine not working
Unlit sign

£2,000,000 Surplus on Council Car Parks and still they want more….

Chris Sadler, the Walton Society’s very excellent councillor has written the following note about the recent vote. It’s really worth reading.

Update on Proposed Car Park Charge increases

Last Wednesday’s Council debate on increases to car park charges descended into chaos.  Glenn Dearlove, the Conservative Portfolio Holder for Transport, told us he had just returned from holiday. This was his excuse for introducing, at last minute, amendments to the proposals that had been considered at Cabinet three weeks earlier. At that time, on behalf of The Walton Society and the whole of the Residents Group, I had spoken up to oppose the proposals as excessive and unfair, and asked that they be withdrawn and replaced by some more moderate increases.

The last minute amendments – for which there was no written copy for Councillors to study – only covered the increases to annual season ticket prices at Station Car Parks and Town Centre Car Parks, for which increases of 25% over three years and 34% over three years respectively had been recommended. These increases were scaled back to (only !) 10% and 15% respectively. The other sweetener offered was the postponement for six months of the ending of the free Saturday parking in central Walton, Hersham, Thames Ditton and Long Ditton. This was accompanied by an invitation to the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to conduct a review of the impact of the changes and make recommendations to Cabinet prior to the end of June 2019.

We were not impressed. We have had massive increases in off-street parking charges in the last six years. The annual surplus of income from Council owned car parks over related expenditure is now nearly £2million. Such increases result in more and more cars seeking to park in local roads to the detriment of residents, making an existing problem even worse. They also hit town centre workers who do use the car parks and mean a drop in shopper footfall leading to shop closures. We feel very strongly that any increase in charges needs to be preceded   by a proper review and by consultation with all Ward Councillors on the appropriate levels for charges. In addition, it seems ridiculous that amendments are put forward covering Station Car Parks and Town Centre Car Parks when there was no mention of the Village Car Parks, such as the one at The Halfway, for which increases of over  50% for annual season tickets were proposed. Nor is there any justification for increasing the number of hours during which charges are payable from 9am to 6pm to 8am to 7pm. 

We therefore opposed the Tories’ amendment and supported the amendment which I had sent in earlier in the day. This called for the existing Conservative proposals to be withdrawn and there to be a consultation with Councillors with a view to producing a revised range of increases more in line with current levels of inflation.

Regrettably, the Tories managed to win the votes on both amendments by the narrowest of margins. We have however obtained a further concession that the review can cover the full range of issues relating to car parking, so we are not giving up on this, and will present a case for more realistic charges for car parking. 

Chris Sadler, Elmbridge/Walton Central Councillor & Shadow Portfolio Holder for Resources

Some history….Elmbridge’s Conservative-led council is planning to raise parking prices across the borough. We and our other Residents Association colleagues have made our discontent known to Cllrs Simon Waugh, David Archer and Tim Oliver – we have had no response from them so far.

Chris Sadler, Elmbridge/Walton Central Councillor & Shadow Portfolio Holder for Resources has done an excellent job in looking into the detail of the proposed charges. Here are his findings for Walton – you should expect them to roughly the same for Esher: 

“Elmbridge Borough Council’s Conservative administration is proposing very significant increases in charges for the council’s off-street car parks, targeting in particular those who stay longer than two hours, and season ticket holders. By way of example, an annual season ticket for any of the Council car parks in Walton Town Centre, currently priced at £1,090, will increase to £1,464 – a rise of almost 25%, effective January 2020. The cost of an annual season ticket at any of the station car parks in Elmbridge will increase from £1,417 now to £1,713.60 an increase of over 20%. 

On the day car park charges will also be increased – 3 and 4 hour periods by 20% and long stay full day ticket from £6.50 to £9.50 (46%) from January 1st.In addition car park charging hours are proposed to be increased starting one hour earlier and continuing until one hour later. This will have significant consequences. Commuters arriving home between 6 pm and 7 pm will now be in competition with those arriving to park for an evening in Walton. Anyone who parks free in a car park overnight will now need to be up and out before 8 am. The Conservatives are also considering charging for Sunday parking. T

The overall increase in net income from all the various measures amounts to almost £300,000 in the first year of the 3 year programme, which equates to almost 10 % of this year’s total income. 

We are strongly opposed to these proposals. They come after six consecutive years of significant increases, which have seen the cost of an annual season ticket for a station car park rise from £822 to £1417 – an increase of 72%. Over the same period, the cost of an annual season ticket in our Town Centre car parks has risen from £610 to £1090, an increase of 78%. 

These increases will hit town centre workers, shoppers and commuters hard. The result will be even more drivers looking to park for free in our residential roads over a longer day, making it yet more difficult for  residents to find a parking space anywhere near where they live, as well as increasing congestion. Other drivers, especially at the station car parks, may well choose to switch to alternative car parks, which offer cheaper rates at the cost of short walk. Such changes are likely to actually reduce the income from these car parks, as has happened before.

Given the cuts in Government funding for local authorities such as Elmbridge, a freeze on car parking charges is probably not a realistic option. However, we will fight these excessive price increases. We will insist that there is a period of consultation leading to a more acceptable set of increases that align better with current rates of inflation.