Protests over St Albans Sunday parking fees
PUBLISHED: 12:42 22 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:42 22 May 2014
A coalition of disgruntled traders is fighting to reverse Sunday parking charges in St Albans.
The introduction of a £1 Sunday parking fee from 8.30am came into effect at the beginning of April, part of a raft of changes to car parking charges introduced by the district council.
But the move has met with a furious response from retailers, who claim it is detrimental to businesses and little more than a money-making venture which was introduced without any consultation.
Around 140 people have already signed an online petition set up to oppose the fees, and a companion Facebook page has attracted over 150 members.
The campaign was founded by Nadya Giffen, owner of White Orchid Therapies in London Road: “We are fed up with the parking situation in St Albans. It is ridiculously expensive as it is and to add insult to injury they are now charging £1 on a Sunday when it was always free before. All this is going to do is put more people off coming to our city.
“This new charge will have a detrimental effect not only on the farmers’ market, French and Italian markets but also the bar and restaurant industry in St Albans. People come here to socialise, drink and dine out and more often than not they will park their cars overnight as the parking has always been free and they could collect them the next day. This new parking charge on a Sunday will now put people off and the long-term effect of this is more businesses will close as people seek to go elsewhere where they can park easily and free of charge.
“People are also unaware of this new charge and when they have come to collect their cars on a Sunday they have found parking tickets have been slapped on them.
“The council should be encouraging people to come to our cathedral city not driving them away with these extortionate parking charges.”
Callum Hill, owner of énergie Fitness for Women, said his business has already been hit by the charges: “Sundays are very busy days in the gym, which is encouraged by free parking, and we have already seen a decline in members attending on Sundays for this reason.”
Gels Picciuto, of Kashu Street Food, said he has received complaints from visitors to the monthly farmers’ market about the introduction of Sunday parking fees.
“Visitors are already lamenting the new £1 Sunday charge as a stay-away tax – this was evident at the May farmers’ market when what was usually a bustling day became a lacklustre turnout and a poor day for traders. Customers from further afield were particularly unhappy at seeing the removal of free Sunday parking.”
Council leader Cllr Julian Daly previously justified the introduction of Sunday parking charges by claiming retail businesses were unhappy that some car parks were free while others cost £1, and the fees would bring St Albans in line with Hemel and Watford.
Fellow councillor Beric Read, portfolio holder for community engagement and localism, said the £1 blanket charge meant the council could now send out a consistent message about Sunday parking, highlighting that it was the cheapest in the area: “I am also looking at a later starting time for when charges begin,” he added.
To join the St Albans Parking Campaign Facebook group visit www.facebook.com/groups/1413148775626482/ To sign the petition go to www.ipetitions.com/petition/unfair-parking-charges-in-st-albans