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Rochester commuters slam "disgusting and indefensible" charges at new car park

It's a "premium" car park apparently - and commuters could be forgiven for downing a few pints of premium lager after learning of its new charges.

Those forking out for a season ticket at the Rochester’s new multi-storey car park will now have to fork out £650 a year, compared with the previous season ticket price of £400 to use a single car park all year.

And this morning, as many discovered that the old Corporation Street car park is now short-stay only, the reality was beginning to sink in.

The new multi-storey car park in Cory's Road, Rochester
The new multi-storey car park in Cory's Road, Rochester

Speaking at Medway’s Full Council meeting last night, council leader Alan Jarrett fired a preemptive shot across the bows of a potential commuter rebellion - stating “I’m aware of traffic on Twitter concerning prices at the multi-storey car park.

“Anyone who complains about charging needs to look at the millions of pounds we spent on the car park and realise everything needs to be paid for.”

The argument didn’t go down well with car park users, including commuter Ryan Crick, who said the cost had not been subject to consultation and would spark uproar.

“This whole thing will gather pace,” said Mr Crick, 37, a money-laundering report officer. “This morning there’s lots of people in the Corporation Street car park absolutely lost saying ‘I can’t park here now. Where do I go?’

“They’ve put a sign up saying this car park is going to be a short-stay car park, but the commuters don’t know that when they come to renew their ticket there’s going to be a significant increase if they’re using the multi-storey.”

Commuter Ryan Crick, from Hoo
Commuter Ryan Crick, from Hoo

He said the planned closure of Gas House Lane car park and changes to arrangements to other car parks like Corporation Street were railroading commuters into forking out for the new multi-storey car park.

Mr Crick only found out the price scheme when he enquired directly with the council.

And when he queried the new price structure last week he received an email from Megan Wilson, parking enforcement & car park manager, explaining: “The car park is a premium car park in a premium location and the pricing structure was decided with the level of service that it offers in mind, along with comparing this to other car parks in a similar location."

But he doubted many commuters would be impressed, no matter how many times the word premium was fired at them.

“It’s a lump of concrete. What’s premium about it?” he said. “It says to me they’re charging us a premium because commuters will pay it.

“It’s a significant amount of money.

“It’s an unfair deal for commuters, who are an easy target. It’s an indefensible charge.”

Among those reacting to the news online, was Paul Asbury, who said: “An increase to £650 for a season ticket and you can’t use any other car park with it? Disgusting and indefensible.”

And he added: “What the hell is a 'premium' car park. Absolute disgrace.”

In an email to Mr Crick, council leader Alan Jarrett stated, as he did on Thursday night, that the car park had cost over £5,000,000, some of which has come from government grant, but with a sizable proportion from borrowing.

"As such Council decided a new charging regime was not only desirable but essential in order to repay the borrowing over time," he wrote. "This it should be remembered is against the backcloth of Medway having arguably the cheapest car parking charges in Kent and it also needs to be remembered that we are in the 7th year of a car parking charge freeze. We will be reviewing car parking charges more generally over the months ahead.

"This council has an excellent record of providing services to the public, but I hope you would agree that where substantial capital investment is made and funded in part from borrowing then that borrowing has be repaid in the most timely manner."

Medway Council previously publicised the Rochester Riverside car park charges in a press release earlier this month as follows:

0-1 hours: £1.00
1-2 hours: £1.50
2-3 hours: £2.00
3-5 hours: £2.50
5 hours+ : £6.00

An annual permit is £650 or £189 for a quarterly permit.

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