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Labour's Kevin Mills criticises Conservative council's vote on parking charges in Dover, Deal and Sandwich

A councillor has criticised a vote for increased fees in town car parks - but deferring over charging for rural ones.

Dover District Council's cabinet on Monday agreed to increase hourly charges for spaces in Dover, Deal and Sandwich from £1.10 an hour to £1.30.

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The Pencester Road car park
The Pencester Road car park

The Conservative cabinet put off bringing in charges for four village car parks to allow more consultation with the relevant parish councils.

Opposition leader, Labour's Kevin Mills, now says: "While we all accept cost increases they need to be fair and equitable within the district.

"The current administration took the decision to defer introducing charges in rural car parks pending further works and consultation with parish councils.

"Now we saw the cabinet amend their own paper to consult yet again with the parish councils.

"A reason given by is that the rural areas have their own specific issues.

Opposition leader Kevin Mills.
Opposition leader Kevin Mills.

"Rural parts of the district face their own unique challenges but so does every town and high street in our district.

"But the inflation-busting increases to these parts of our district, with their own unique difficulties, went through without discussion.

"If the current administration can defer the decision on rural charges for further consultation why can this not be done throughout the district?"

The hourly rise is 18% against October's last inflation reading of 1.5%.

The new costs planned for 2020/21, from this April, are for the following car parks.

The present charges for the Stembrook car park in Dover
The present charges for the Stembrook car park in Dover

Dover: Bench Street, Camden Crescent, Ladywell, Maison Dieu, Pencester Road, Priory Road, Stembrook, Castle Street and the Seafront.

Sandwich: Market Street and New Street.

Deal: Beach Street, Middle Street, South Street, Stanhope Road, St George's, Town Hall.

Where staying times allow the rise for two hours would go up from £2.20 to £2.60, for three hours £3.30 to £3.90 and for four, £4.40 to £5.20.

The rural car parks, for which a decision was deferred, are currently free but would have fees of £1 for two hours.

Deal Middle street car park.Picture: Paul Amos
Deal Middle street car park.Picture: Paul Amos

These are Reach Road, St Margaret's-at-Cliffe, The Street, Ash, and Eastry and Wingham High Streets.

The proposal had originally come before the cabinet in January 2018 and a decision was then also taken to defer.

The council wants to impose charges at these sites because of a growing need for parking spaces.

An officers' report says these bays, meant to be short-stay, are being misused with some people parking on them all day.

Dover District Council is also considering extending the times of car park charging for all its car parks and pay and display on-street spaces.

They would go from the present 5pm limit to 6pm but the cabinet has not so far voted on that.

Cllr Stephen Manion, portfolio holder for finance, told the cabinet that raising the fees would give something back to the community.

He later explained to the Mercury that meant paying for upkeep of car parks such as providing electric vehicle charging points.

These have also been the first increases in car park charges in the district for four years.

A Dover District Council spokesman said: "With the increasing number of vehicles on the roads, it is essential that the council continues to review its parking policies."Our annual review looks at all car parks in the district to ensure parking facilities are maintained, and spaces remain available for residents and visitors.

" These latest proposals are subject to consultation.

"We are specifically consulting further with parish councils where charges are proposed as these are new charges and we want to fully understand requirements at each location.

"The decision on parking charges is made by cabinet. The implementation is subject to DDC scrutiny processes, and feedback from consultation."

Kevin Mills was mayor of Dover from 1993 to 1995.

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich


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