Chamber’s Representation to Alton Town Council Regarding Increased Car Park Charges

ACCI is very concerned about the recent decision made by EHDC Cabinet to raise the charges in their Alton Car Parks. Our concerns are twofold. Firstly we think the disproportionate cost increase will badly affect Alton business, particularly our retailers, but even more importantly we are worried about the total lack of consultation with anyone outside the Cabinet. Indeed, we assume if there had been proper consultation such a disastrous decision would not have been made.

As the voice of Alton Business and leaders in the move to raise the profile of tourism in Alton, we have been concerned about the fragile state of retail business in Alton Town Centre for a long time. Increasing numbers of empty shops do nothing for the appearance and atmosphere in the town. We think that one of the keys to encouraging the local community and visitors alike to use the town centre more is to make car parking in Alton more user friendly. It was ACCI who originally requested the ability to use the same ticket in more than one car park and we have been urging EHDC to do away with Sunday parking charges in some car parks for several years. We see the decision to increase the cost of parking for one hour by 66.6% as an entirely cynical method to increase Council revenue without any thought of the knock on effect for the population in general and for Alton businesses in particular.

Our second concern is about the lack of proper consultation and debate with local stakeholders. The Alton Chamber has been in existence since 1909 and has over many years been at the forefront in helping local authorities make decisions about the future of Alton‘s economy. We played a major part in the reorganisation of the traffic flow when the relief road was designed and wish to continue to do so. We therefore regret the increasing side lining of Alton business groups at a time when business rates are under particular pressure.

We strongly request EHDC to rescind this hasty and ill thought out decision and to carry out proper consultation with all relevant stakeholders before the matter of car park charges is brought back to Cabinet.