THE leader of Bromsgrove District Council has defended the authority’s decision to not suspend car parking charges during this lockdown.
Councillor Karen May said the reason is to encourage people to stay at home and use delivery services or click and collect instead of visiting the town centre.
Car park charges had been suspended in the run up to Christmas and into early January to encourage people to shop local.
“We did offer free parking in the early stages of the pandemic as, at that point, we did not have a payment app which people use to pay for their parking,” said Coun May.
“We do now have this in place, apart from at the Asda Car Park, so we have installed some additional hand sanitiser stations there for people to use.
“Whilst we don’t expect to generate much income from our car parks during this period as people should be staying at home as much as possible, we have also had to consider that parking charges make up 10 per cent of the council’s net departmental base budget.
“While a lot of this goes to maintaining our car parks and keeping them safe, the money is also invested into services which benefit all of our residents.”
Coun May added it also helps keep council tax rates down.
Old Station Road resident Heather Evans wrote to the Standard and Coun May about scrapping the charges.
She felt it was a health and safety matter as everyone in the town is ‘pressing the same buttons’ on ticket dispensers to pay for their parking.
“Our NHS workers are putting themselves on the line and we must do all we can to reduce risk at this time,” she said.