Published: 15:52, 16 April 2018
Dover District Council (DDC) has agreed to scrap Sunday car parking charges at all proposed sites excluding one.
Councillors at a cabinet meeting this morning unanimously agreed to halt bringing in the new seven-day charges in 11 out of 12 car parks.
It means Sunday parking will remain free to residents and visitors in all council-owned car parks apart from Middle Street in Deal.
Councillor Peter Wallace has described it as a "huge U-turn".
He said: "It is a great relief to know there will still be free parking on Sundays
"The towns are hubs of our community and the council should be encouraging people into the towns.
"Large supermarkets know that free parking is a great way to attract in customers. With everything Dover, Deal and Sandwich has to offer, we should be doing the same."
The decision to charge in Middle Street comes after research showed it was operating at full capacity at many times, with shoppers and visitors unable to park.
Councillor Mike Eddy has described it as a victory but is reminding residents that the decision could only be temporary.
He said: "We’re pleased to see the council looked for evidence and the evidence found there is no case to charge in Sandwich, Dover or most of Deal. It is a victory for all the campaigners, people who signed the petitions, shopkeepers and the Labour councillors who created the two petitions in Dover and Deal."
"The charges have been called off for now, but people need to be aware there is an election in May 2019 for a new council. It’s important people vote for a party that has the best interests of Dover, Deal and the villages in mind."
The new costs across the district were initially put forward when the owners of the new St James' development announced they were going to charge motorists on Sundays. They have since dropped this notion.
It means Dover is the only council in east Kent that does not currently charge for parking in the majority of its town car parks on Sundays.
DDC says it will continue to monitor town centre car park usage as demand increases, and will continue to take whatever action is necessary to manage town centre car parks where churn is necessary to support high street businesses.
Leader of DDC, Cllr Keith Morris, said: “We’ve listened carefully to the views of residents, visitors and town centre businesses.
"We’ve struck a balance between the need to manage ever increasing parking demands at the weekend, as well as maintaining our ongoing commitment to offer the cheapest and shortest periods of parking charges in East Kent.”
Car parks which will remain free are South Street, Stanhope Road, the Town Hall, Sainsbury's St Ethelburga's and Park Street in Deal, The Guildhall in Sandwich and Stembrook, Woolcomber Street, Bench Street and Townwall Street in Dover.
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