PROPOSED PARKING CHARGES
FREE car parking is set to be scrapped in Hailsham. Wealden bosses say they must bring in charges, or land residents with a huge council tax bill. Councillors in Hailsham are not expected to fight the proposals. Businesses fear they will lose trade. 'We have fought it over the years but it is inevitable', said Mayor Bob Burnett. Charges will come into force from January next year.
Tory leader of Wealden District Council, Nigel Coltman, said they needed to find an extra £500,000 a year 'from somewhere' due to cuts in government funding. He said the council had been given a grant increase of just 1.4 per cent or £100,000. He said, 'When you think our total general budget for 2004/2005 is just over £15 million, £100,000 is peanuts.
Cllr Nigel Coltman
'The only other alternative is to put council tax up by eight per cent and I am not prepared to do that as a matter of principle'. 'I am not going to take a higher council tax from people who are on a low income, and probably don't even drive, when every other authority charges for its car parks'.
Akhtar Ali, manager of Hailsham Co-op said, 'It will affect our trade because people tend to go to shopping centres with no car parking charges'. ASDA and Tesco in Eastbourne are free and it won't help us when Tesco comes along because their car park will be free and people will shop there.'
Hailsham Town Clerk Elizabeth Jones said, 'I think Wealden finds itself in a very difficult position and is between a rock and a hard place. 'We have fought this before and whilst everyone will deplore this, what else can be done with the government cuts?' Cllr Burnett added, 'It is regrettable and it will do some damage to the town.' 'The government said that we have to make use o four own facilities and Wealden District Council has had to bow to government pressure.'
The recommendation to charge for the car parks was made by Audit Commission inspectors who visited the town last month. They were concerned that parking was free when everywhere else charges were imposed. The decision, which is expected to be ratified later in the year, will affect the whole of the Wealden area, including Pevensey.
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* WE SAY WEALDEN HAS BEEN BADLY MANAGED FOR YEARS. WEALDEN'S POLICIES DISCOURAGE BUSINESS AND TARGET THOSE LESS ABLE TO DEFEND THEMSELVES*
Wealden's Crest - photo courtesy HSUK
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