DRIVERS are to be hit by an increase in car-parking charges in Hucknall as Ashfield District Council looks to balance its books.
The controversial proposal was given the green light at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet on Wednesday night.
The charge for the first hour of parking in the town will double from 20p to 40p.
The new fees will be introduced in May at all the pay-and-display car parks run and managed by Ashfield Council.
In Hucknall, this will affect the Piggins Croft site, off Yorke Street, as well as the car parks on Station Road, Yorke Street, Market Place and Ogle Street (John Godber Centre).
The council says the increase in charges is necessary to help meet £1.9 million worth of savings it must make in its budget for the coming year.
It points out that there has been no increase in car-parking charges for more than a decade.
As part of the proposals, the council has also pledged that there will be no further increase during the period of the current administration up to the local elections of May 2015.
As part of the council’s research, it claims its charges will still be lower than car parks in many neighbouring areas, including Nottingham city centre and Mansfield.
Coun Chris Baron (Lab), of Hucknall, lead member for customer and corporate services, planning and partnerships, said: “It is a decade since the council reviewed these charges.
“The charge of 40p for the first hour is still low when compared with neighbouring towns and cities.
“These increases are being introduced with a pledge to residents that they will be the only one made during the current administration.
“We have to take a balanced view that while we need to stimulate the local economy and encourage people to shop in our town centres, we also need to set our car-parking charges at realistic levels”.
Coun Baron added that the council also intended to introduce free car-parking during the month of January, complete with other parking promotions throughout the year.
The current charges are 20p for one hour, 40p for up to two hours, 60p for up to four hours and £1 for all-day parking.
The new charges will be 40p for one hour, 60p for up to two hours, £1 for up to four hours and £1.50 for a whole day’s parking.
There have been no major improvement works to the district’s car parks in the last 15 years. It is estimated that an extra £159,000 will be needed in the next four years, with an estimated £120,000 for resurfacing work. Extra revenue from increased charges for parking will go towards this.
There is also a need to upgrade the ticket machines in the car parks.
A budget of £50,000 has been set aside for this but an original cost of up to £60,000 has now been reduced to £30,000.
This is because the company that supplies the machines can upgrade the internal workings without having to replace the machines.