Fears over plan for private firm to run car parks

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BUSINESS leaders and councillors fear vital money needed for improving local infrastructure will be lost if a private firm takes over the town’s parking.

Currently Hastings Borough Council (HBC) manages the car parks and parking enforcement under an agreement with the county council.

But County Hall in Lewes is considering handing over control of on-street parking to a private company.

East Sussex County Council’s cabinet is meeting next Tuesday (November 15) to discuss the proposals.

Rob Woods, town centre manager, said: “There are fears that the remote contractor would put revenue generation before flexibility and local knowledge at a time when we all know that town centres are having a hard time.

“The town’s Bar Watch and Shop Watch scheme, together with its CCTV operations, are heavily dependent on revenue made from car parking charges and enforcement. We have no guarantees that this revenue will continue if a remote contractor takes over parking so there are real fears that this successful crime reduction initiative will become less effective.”

Councillor Jay Kramer, HBC’s deputy leader, said: “Instead of having local control of parking that tries to be sensitive to the needs of residents and businesses a remote national company will be making money out of Hastings car owners. The Chamber of Commerce, the Town Centre Management Committee and a number of residents’ groups have lobbied the county council to leave things as they are.

“The borough council has offered to carry on managing the scheme and to provide £180,000 worth of savings for the county council but even that is not enough. It just seems determined to bring in a private business to run local parking.”

Councillor Carl Maynard, the county council’s lead cabinet member for economy, transport and environment, said: “This issue is clearly one that is very important to Hastings residents and indeed East Sussex as a whole. But a decision has yet to be made by the cabinet. In making any decision we will be clearly considering the value for money, particularly for Hastings residents, whereby any parking surplus goes back into local transport improvements.”