I'm absolutely delighted to announce that Cornwall Council have agreed to a trial lowering of season ticket prices in Launceston. For a three month period, the annual charge will be cut from £470 to £200. This is a campaign that Sasha, Adam and I have worked with the Chamber of Commerce on for many months and it's great that it has proved successful.
Until May last year, season tickets were £195 per year and take up in Launceston was high with around 200 drivers buying the tickets. Price rises to £400 in May 2011 and then £470 in April 2012 saw sales drop dramatically to the extent that there were as few as 30 season tickets being used in Launceston. One consequence of the drop in sales was an increase in parking in residential streets causing annoyance and inconvenience to local residents.
We're delighted that Cornwall Council has seen sense and re-introduced season tickets at reasonable prices. It's a win for local residents, it's a win for town centre workers and it should be a win for the council which will see income rise.
We believed that the Council was more concerned with spreadsheets than local needs. They seemed to think that drivers would pay any amount to park in our car parks. But with many local workers and residents on low incomes, the doubling of prices simply forced them to park on the streets. As a result, Cornwall Council's income fell and there were fewer than 25 cars in the long stay car park meant for 270 according to the Chamber of Commerce study.
This is very good news for our local economy. The new scheme is an experiment which we all hope will be attractive to drivers. For three months from August 1st, they can buy a season ticket for Launceston only for £200. Anyone who bought one of the £400 or £470 tickets can choose to exchange it for a £200 one and receive a refund on the unused portion or pay the difference as needed.
We will be encouraging everyone to take up this new season ticket. If this trial is not successful then the prices will go back up again. But for the sake of town centre workers and residents and for those living in residential areas around the town, we need people to come back to the car parks. If the Launceston trial proves to be successful then we hope that the lower prices can be rolled out across Cornwall.
I'm not always the most complimentary about Cornwall Council's parking service, or Cllr Graeme Hicks, the cabinet member in charge of parking. But I want to pay credit to them for the way they have worked on this scheme. They listened to the evidence presented by Sasha, Adam and myself and from the Chamber of Commerce. They looked at their own balance sheet and saw that their scheme wasn't working. And so we started discussing this option a couple of weeks ago and it has moved very quickly. Full marks to them.