Published: 16/01/2013 08:01

Flat-rate woe for shoppers

Written byBY JOSHUA TAYLOR

COUNCIL bosses could carry out an urgent review of car parking in Uttoxeter town centre if there are no short-stay spaces included in a new retail development.

The pledge by senior members of East Staffordshire Borough Council came after they refused to abandon plans to scrap 30p half-hour parking spaces on council-owned land in the town. Instead a flat rate of £1 for one hour will be introduced.

Julia Jessel, the council's deputy leader for built environment, told a meeting: "We are not yet aware how the Carters Square car park will be managed. However, should free or low-cost short-term car parking not be available, we should undertake a review to see whether it is required on borough council car parks."

The Carters Square land is due to be transformed into a retail site this year with a new Asda supermarket, doctors surgery, cafe and other retailers such as Home Bargains.

The adjoining car park is still managed by the council but will eventually become privately operated.

It is not known whether this car park will then be free or pay-and-display.

Councillor Jessel said: "Free car parking is available in Uttoxeter at Tesco, but if you are not at your physical peak it's quite difficult walking down the hill to Tesco from town.

"(If free or short-term spaces are not included at Carters Square) we should undertake a rapid review of provision for 30-minute car parking."

Councillor Jessel's claims came as she and other senior Conservatives debated whether to row back on a previous pledge to scrap 30p 30-minute bays and introduce a £1-for-one-hour flat rate instead.

Labour councillors said an increase from 30p to £1 was unacceptable for Uttoxeter's residents and demanded a U-turn.

But Conservative leaders of the council said a £1 straight tariff was 'clear and simply understood' and 'excellent value for money'. They said a public consultation carried out last year showed support for the changes.

The Labour councillors also believe it is wrong for charges to be the same in Burton and Uttoxeter because Burton is a larger town with more shops and facilities.

However, Conservatives claimed they had taken the differences between the two towns into account, pointing out that Sunday parking will remain free in Uttoxeter.

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