Free parking scrapped at St Albans’ Westminster Lodge

Westminster Lodge covered in snow

Westminster Lodge covered in snow - Credit: Archant

FREE parking for the first three hours at a busy St Albans car park is set to be scrapped as part of district council budget changes.

Parking at Westminster Lodge has been free for the first three hours for a number of years with a charge introduced after that period to deter commuters using the Abbey Flyer from parking there all day.

But the district council’s cabinet now wants to introduce a charge for the first three hours – at the same time as the new leisure centre has opened.

And they are also proposing to remove the council subsidy for three hours’ free use of the Amenbury Lane car park by leisure centre users in Harpenden.

Cllr Beric Read, the council’s portfolio holder for community engagement and localism, said the charge at Westminster Lodge would only be £1 for the first three hours and was to bring it into line with other car parks.

He added: “Westminster Lodge is not always used for what we want it to be used for which is leisure centre parking and people using the park.”

But Lib Dem leisure spokesman, Cllr Anthony Rowlands, said his group was highly critical of the effect the proposal would have at both car parks.

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He added: “Charges at the new Westminster Lodge leisure centre have already gone up with the opening of the fantastic new facility. This would be a double-whammy for local residents.

“Surely we should be encouraging not discouraging people from using our leisure centres and the other recreational facilities offered within the parks? This is a fitness tax by another name. Following a memorable Olympic Year, this is a dreadful proposal from the Tories.’