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Plan to make parking free on Saturdays in Swale’s town centres shot down


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A plan to make parking free on Saturdays in Swale’s town centres has been shot down.

Members voted against the motion, put forward by Cllr Oliver Eakin (Con), calling for the lifting of charges in council-owned cars parks in Sheerness, Sittingbourne and Faversham last Wednesday.

Cllr Oliver Eakin
Cllr Oliver Eakin

Addressing the chamber, Cllr Eakin said: “The Covid pandemic has led to severe economic downturns and now that we’re in the recovery process, we need to pull out all the stops to achieve the result we desire when it comes to shopping locally.

“To ensure the survival of our local traders and their businesses, we have to take the necessary steps.”

He added: “Taking this step would mean an accelerated return and a greater chance of survival for our businesses.”

However, Cllr Alan Horton pointed out the loss of revenue to the council each month could be in the region of £100,000.

He added: “That comes out of the pockets of people who already pay council tax in Swale.”

The motion put forward by Cllr Eakin proposed making parking free in Swale's town centres on Saturdays
The motion put forward by Cllr Eakin proposed making parking free in Swale's town centres on Saturdays

Other members feared it clashed with the authority’s environmental aims.

Cllr Richard Palmer (Swale Ind) said: “The council voted unanimously to support the climate emergency. Free parking, I believe, would increase traffic and congestion with very little benefit to traders.”

Cllr Steve Davey (Lab) added: “During the first part of lockdown last year, I walked through Sittingbourne and I could breathe properly for a change and there was no haze in the sky.

“I think it’s very important that we look at the benefits of having less transport on our roads and I’d rather look at maybe providing free public transport on a Saturday, and improving the pedestrian and cycles lanes into town, rather than give people free parking.”

When put to a vote of the full council, 25 members voted against the motion, 12 for it and two abstained.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheppey

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

Read more: All the latest news from Faversham

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