Key bodies - including tourism and business chiefs - are to come together to make sure their voices are heard over parking charges in Skegness.
Passions ran high at the full Skegness Town Council meeting on Wednesday, with Coun Steve Kirk bashing the table with his fist as councillors raised concerns over what they believe has been a lack of consultation by East Lindsey District Council (ELDC).
Car parking has been a hot topic at meetings since a review in 2013 saw charges increased and free parking cut. This was intended to improve equality across the district while earning the council £400,000 extra a year.
In October last year a U-turn on charges at some previously-free car parks was welcomed, only for new proposals to be announced regarding a £2 overnight charge.
Brakes were put on this last month after the Skegness and District Chamber of Commerce challenged the proposals, claiming parking charges in the resort would be more expensive than other similar sized holiday destinations.
ELDC said that ‘an independent piece of research will be conducted into the economic and financial impact of car parking charges in the district’.
However, ahead of the outcome of the review, Skegness Town Council wants to make sure that its voice is heard.
Coun Mark Anderson, who had supported ELDC’s bid to improve equality of charges in 2013, said Skegness did not even have that at its own car parks, with one charging £7.50 a day and the Embassy £1 an hour.
He said: “Research was done before changes were proposed 14 months ago. Ten months later the reversal happens. I think this is appalling. The district council still thinks our car parks are a cash raising cow. Additional charges will affect businesses and cost jobs. We need to send them a strong message that this isn’t going to happen again.”
His motion was that: ‘Skegness Town Council objects to the decision by East Lindsey District Council to remove free car parking in Skegness carparks after 6pm on the basis that this will have a negative impact on the evening economy. It is believed that this was done without proper analysis of the consequences and without full and proper consultation with Skegness Town Council and other interested groups and organisations within the town’.
When suggesting an amendment Coun Kirk declared: “It cuts no mustard. We can bash our fists on the table (doing so) but get real - that will not change anything.”
His suggestion of amendments won support and, as such, it was decided the councillors would welcome the postponement of proposed evening car park charges pending further information, and that Mayor Coun Carl Masey would call a meeting with stakeholders such as the Chamber, Destination Management Organisation (DMO), Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association (SECWHA), Skegness Partnership, the Victuallers’ Association and foreshore traders.
This group would then look to come up with alternative options to put to ELDC - which administers car parking.
A spokesman for ELDC said: “The Executive Board has already confirmed that it will commission further work to consider car parking issues and will not be implementing any further changes to tariffs until such work has been completed and considered. This review will include conversations with the Town Council, Chamber of Commerce and Skegness Partnership.”