Southend residents and visitors could soon be able to park in all council-owned carparks and on-street parking bays for just £8.50 a month.
The council’s Cabinet are set to discuss proposals to introduce a discounted parking pass across the town in a bid to boost the local retail and leisure sectors.
A report will be considered by Cabinet (item 12, Tuesday 15 September) which sets out a proposed trial period for what is being branded The Southend Pass.
Officers have recommended trialling a borough-wide pass priced at £8.50 a month for a period of 12 months, running from 1 April 2021 – 31 March 2022. The trial period would allow officers the opportunity to review the financial impact, as well as the take-up of the scheme.
The aim of the proposals is to provide three hours parking every day in any council-owned car park or on-street pay-and-display bays, for a flat monthly rate of £8.50. It is hoped this would encourage residents to use their local shops and leisure facilities more often, boosting the local economy while saving families money.
The report also sets out plans to create four categories of parking ‘zones’, based on each areas levels of residential and business parking. Southend Pass permit holders would be able to park for up to three hours per day in each ‘zone’.
Additionally, there is a recommendation to extend the buy one-hour, get one-hour free parking scheme aimed at short stay customers. Originally set to come to an end on 30 September, the report recommends extending this offer until 31 March 2021 in a bid to entice residents and visitors to continue shopping locally and support the recovery from COVID-19.
Customers buying a one-hour parking ticket will get their second hour free in all council-owned car parks. The offer only applies to the one-hour parking band, or the two-hour parking band in the Fairheads Green and Gasworks car parks (buy two hours and get one hour free). It is also recommended that free parking after 4pm ends on 30 September as agreed at June’s cabinet, with charging and enforcement times returning to normal.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, capital and inward investment, said: “Introducing the Southend Pass has long been an ambition of mine and I am delighted to present these proposals to the Council’s cabinet.
“Parking charges are an important factor in when and where people decide to shop and spend their leisure time. As a visitor town, we want to ensure that the cost of visitor parking contributes to the enormous cost of maintaining clean beaches and visitor facilities. But at the same time, we want it to be affordable for residents to regularly use the town’s shops and leisure facilities, which is so important for local trade, especially outside the visitor season.
“This scheme is still in its early stages but there’s a lot to be excited about. The Southend Pass, alongside the extension of the one-hour free parking scheme, has the potential to get local people back into our shops and leisure centres and provide the welcome boost our economy needs after months of uncertainty throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.”
In addition to considering the introduction of the Southend Pass, cabinet will review recommendations for a review on how the various permit schemes available in the borough could be reduced to create a more refined permit scheme. Discussions will also be had around the digitisation of the parking service in Southend and also a review of the Traffic Regulations Order (TRO) database.
Cllr Woodley added: “The cabinet will also be looking more generally at how we can improve the existing permit schemes available to local residents. As it stands, we have 60 different permit options, and the recommendation suggests reducing this to eight core permits. This is alongside further work around creating a simplified, yet effective, way of managing parking matters across the whole borough.”