Freezing Cheltenham's car parking charges deemed a 'wise' move
CAR parking charges have been frozen for the third year running in Cheltenham in an effort to keep shoppers in the town.
It will mean the borough council will lose out on an estimated £93,600 a year by turning down the expected 2.5 per cent increase.
But councillors decided not to pass on more costs to motorists already feeling the pinch.
Martin Quantock, town centre manager, believed it was a wise decision.
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He said upping charges would have a knock-on effect with shoppers abandoning the high street for cheaper alternatives.
"Any charges on the car parks, whatever they are, have got to be competitive to other towns," he added.
"There is absolutely no point in putting up prices by 2.5 per cent because it could actually mean that people would say 'that's too much, I'm going to drive somewhere else'.
"Just by upping prices does not mean you would get that much in your receipts.
"I understand that the parking charges have been frozen for three years and that is correct and the right thing to do.
"The town has to be absolutely mindful of what other towns are doing."
Every year, when the council comes to setting its base budget, it assumes fees and charges will go up by 2.5 per cent to account for inflation.
As such, in order to freeze charges the council withdrew what is known as the notional increase from its plans.
Councillor John Rawson (LD, St Peter's), cabinet member for finance and deputy leader of the council, hoped the decision would give breathing space to people struggling financially.
"With the economy in a delicate state, both locally and nationally, we thought it was right to hold parking charges at the present level rather than increase them," he said.
"This wasn't easy to achieve when our budget was under great pressure and we were also freezing council tax for a further year, but we managed it. This will be the third consecutive year that off-street parking charges have been frozen. The last increase was in April 2010.
"I hope this will give some comfort to both residents and traders at a very difficult time."