- Season tickets sales have slumped since price rises
- Prices up again today despite promised freeze
- Cheap rate for low paid workers delayed
- Parking meters threatened for some town centres
Cornwall Council has sold just five annual season tickets in Launceston since prices more than doubled in May last year - and prices have risen yet again today.
Season tickets across Cornwall used to be sold pretty haphazardly - with only 13 being sold in the form Carrick at one point. But in North Cornwall in general (and Launceston in particular) the scheme has always been pretty well publicised and well used. That is probably largely due to the narrow streets and walled nature of our town which means that there are very few on street spaces close to the town centre. We also have lots of town centre flats with no parking spaces of their own.
So the drop in the number of season tickets sold is pretty worrying. It will mean a huge loss of income to Cornwall Council and more cars parked on our streets in residential areas (much to the annoyance of some residents).
In the four and a bit months before the season ticket price rose from £195 to £400, there were 195 annual passes sold across the former North Cornwall area (at that stage no records were taken of where the tickets were used). Just five have been renewed since the price rise.
There is a similar story for six month passes. Before the price rise, 143 were sold across North Cornwall in four and a bit months. Since the rise, just seven have been sold.
And yet, despite promises made to local members about the price being frozen this year, the annual charge has risen to £470 (a rise of 17.5%). I asked officers about this today and was told that it was because the day rate for long stay car parks has also risen (itself a cause for concern). The £400 price was already stupid and self-defeating, yet it seems like Cornwall Council is determined to empty the Cattle Market long-stay car park completely.
Those of us who complained about the damage that the high season ticket prices were doing to town centre shops and businesses were told that a cheap rate would be introduced for lower paid workers. Whilst the plan for assessing who would qualify for the cheap rate was pretty badly thought through, at least this was recognition that high season ticket prices could damage local shops and businesses. So why hasn't the scheme been introduced? Because the council is 'worried about the effects on revenue'.
At today's car parking panel meeting at County Hall, officers raised the prospect of introducing charges for on-street parking. Installing meters is said not to be about revenue raising but about helping to ensure a regular turnover of shoppers. I'm afraid that, when everything else to do with parking in Cornwall is revenue related, I don't entirely accept the promise about this being for altruistic reasons - particularly when the same effect can be gained by introducing limited waiting periods where there are none and enforcing those that do exist.