Households to pay £14 a year to keep town parking free
HOUSEHOLDS in Hessle are set to pay an extra £14 a year to keep free parking in the town.
The average increase will come into force next month after town councillors agreed to a new council tax precept.
It will raise almost £84,000 to allow the town council to take over the running of a number of public car parks currently operated by East Riding Council.
Hessle is the only town or parish in the East Riding to have made such a move.
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The East Riding has delayed long-standing plans to introduce charges at a number of its car parks because of the current state of the national economy.
East Riding leader Councillor Stephen Parnaby recently admitted charging was unlikely to be introduced until next year at the earliest because the council's current policy requires two successive quarters of national economic growth to trigger any go-ahead.
But Councillor Paul Hogan, who sits on both authorities, said: "Whether it's sooner or later, the East Riding will bring in charging eventually.
"That's why we have decided to do something about it now.
"Leasing the car parks in Hessle is the only way to ensure free parking continues here.
"Every household is being asked to pay something towards the cost of doing this through our precept.
"I accept some people do not have cars but our argument is that unless we do this to support our local shops and businesses, those people will eventually need a car to drive to a big supermarket because there will be no local shops left."
A recent survey of Hessle residents showed 82 per cent of respondents were in favour of paying the extra average £14 a year.
"The response we got showed that people understood the issues," said Cllr Hogan.
"We are surrounded by big supermarkets with their free parking.
"Hessle is not a Beverley or a Bridlington, it is not a destination for visitors.
"Instead, it's a local shopping centre that needs supporting and encouraging. Car parking charges would destroy it."
The move by the town council means parking will remain free at sites in Swinegate, at the rear of the Orchard shopping centre and on Hessle Foreshore next to the Humber Bridge.
Cllr Hogan said the lease deal was still currently being negotiated with the East Riding.
"We will not officially take over the leases until they start parking charges elsewhere.
"The reason we have done this now is because we only have one opportunity in the year to raise the precept.
"If charges were introduced in October or January, we would not be in a financial position to take over the leases."
Janice Parker has run a pet shop in the centre of the town for 35 years.
She said: "If parking charges were brought in, it would be a disaster for a lot of shops in Hessle.
"There are plenty of empty shops at the moment and it would only get worse.
"As well as working here, I also live in Hessle and I am more than prepared to pay a bit more through my council tax to keep car parking free."