A DISMAYED Worthing borough councillor is backing urgent calls for major renegotiation of contracts with West Sussex County Council over crucial town centre parking arrangements.
Roger Oakley echoed council leader Paul Yallop’s concerns featured previously in the Herald, that the expanded controlled parking zone (CPZ) area is seriously affecting the local economy.
It has emerged Worthing generated a total of £1.5million in on-street parking fees last year – five times the amount of all the other districts combined.
This, coupled with a weak underlying economy, closure of several major high street stores, plus competition from internet traders and supermarkets, has left many town centre traders up-in-arms.
Conservative Mr Oakley said: “Around 10 years ago, the borough council signed a service agreement with the county council over parking arrangements. It was right for that time, but things are very different now.
“The agreement allows the county council to keep any money from parking enforcement for whatever it sees fit. It is earning around one million a year from this arrangement and I believe it needs to be substantially renegotiated in Worthing’s favour.
“I think Worthing is the least able of our districts to be in a position where it does not retain this money gained from parking, especially when the other areas of the county are only contributing only £200,000 against our £1million.”
In response, Pieter Montyn, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for transport, explained surplus parking funds went towards paying for wardens and bus services.
He said: “The agency agreement entered into by the county council and Worthing Borough Council has been strictly adhered to. While there is now a surplus in the order of £1million from on-street pay and display and permit parking within Worthing, it is not reasonable to conclude this somehow demonstrates the county council is financially penalising motorists and residents of Worthing, as compared with other centres.
“On looking at the on-street charges across the county, the highest tariff in Worthing is £1.20 per hour, which is the same as it is in Chichester and lower than Crawley. Worthing residents also enjoy permit prices which are the equivalent of or in many cases lower than other controlled parking zones in the county.
“The number of civil enforcement officers has been reduced from 22 to 16 at Worthing Borough Council’s request, which places it in line with other schemes in West Sussex.
“Unfortunately, this means that the enforcement budget is now running at a loss. Had this budget been running at a profit, the Worthing County Local Committee would have been able to utilise some of this money in Worthing.
“Due to the geography and nature of Worthing, the scheme is by far and away the largest in West Sussex in terms of pay and display spaces and parking permit zones. It therefore generates more revenue and benefits from greater economies of scale.”