250 per cent visitor car parking increase about to hit St Albans

Visitor parking passes are about to get more expensive.

Visitor parking passes are about to get more expensive. - Credit: Archant

Popping by to visit houses in St Albans city centre is about to get about 250 per cent more expensive, sparking concerns for vulnerable and lonely people.

From June 1, a book of 10 all-day visitor car parking permits will cost £13, up from £7.30, and short stay four-hour permits will become obsolete because they will become the same price as the all-day pass.

It currently costs £3.70 for a book of 10 four-hour passes - under the new system people who want to quickly nip in to see a friend will have to use one of the £13 all-day passes.

Per pass this equates to a hike of 37p to £1.30, a 250 per cent increase.

Price increases are being implemented across the district in some controlled parking zones, but this is the most drastic change in the areas affected.

It was been approved by St Albans district council’s Car Parking Working Party at a meeting in December last year.

Resident Bob Grover said he knows people will be “not happy”: “They have only just found out about the plan and they are seriously angry.

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“In my personal opinion, the thing is that the people who are on severely limited budgets, and who may not have cars, and are on their own, and who rely on family or friends coming round for half an hour, are going to feel really budget constrained.

“If they are used to paying 30p for support from relatives and friends who drop round then that increase could be a serious budget problem.”

He also felt the change has not been publicised enough.

St Albans district Cllr Simon Grover also believes the “scrapping” of the four hour pass will affect vulnerable people who have a support network to visit frequently throughout the day.

Under the old rules, a person visiting once a day for a week would cost £2.59. Now, it will cost £9.10.

He said: “What I’m not happy about is that they are effectively scrapping the four hour pass.

“That’s really unfortunate for local businesses, and for anyone who has regular visitors but who are only visiting for a short time.

“The other thing I am not happy about is that the council haven’t told anyone about it. There has been no press release, no publicity.

“People are saying ‘what’s going on?’, ‘when was this agreed?’”

Cllr Grover stressed the council have fulfilled all their legal obligations - the public were notified of the change in a public notice on April 26.

SADC Cllr Beric Read said the increase is because passes cost too much to produce: “It costs more for the council to administer than they make coming in - now people get a whole day for the price of one hour in other places.

“As always, some people win, some people lose.”

There is a separate pass system for carers and workmen, he noted, and would encourage carers who have “fallen out of the system” to contact SADC.

Head of legal, democratic and regulatory services at SADC, Michael Lovelady, said: “Changes to the cost of visitor parking permits were proposed by the council’s cabinet last year as part of the corporate plan and budget for 2017-22. The proposals were then approved by the full council at its meeting in December last year.

“This review of charges was in keeping with the council’s car parking strategy with a view to ensuring that the cost of operating its CPZ schemes and enforcement of parking controls is met by revenues.”

This comes after recent criticism of SADC for proposing, as one of four options, to hike up St Albans allotment prices by about 400 per cent.

To view the new parking charges, visit stalbans.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=304&MId=8085