A Launceston councillor has expressed his frustration after figures were released showing the “detrimental effect” price hikes have had on the town’s car parks.
Earlier this year, it was announced by Cornwall Council that hundreds of car parks across the county would face price increases. While many made their peace with an increase in what they paid to park, very few expected a rise of more than 300 per cent as some sites saw.
One of the sites which had its prices nearly double was Launceston’s Cattle Market car park, which saw its annual fee jump from £221.67 to £400.
Many believed these increases would have a negative impact on local town centres, which is why many were surprised to see Cornwall Council publish statistics earlier this year claiming the opposite.
Recently the council announced that more than 100 car parks across the county had seen an increase in use. The council collated data for a “limited window” from June to September of all 117 chargeable car parks to give an overview of usage.
While some car parks saw an increase in use, which equated to an overall rise in revenue of more than £1-million, this has not been the case everywhere, and Launceston town councillor and Cornwall councillor John Conway has been expressing his concern after figures were released regarding parking in Launceston.
Following the release of Cornwall Council’s report, the town’s Cattle Market car park was found to be down by 59.28 per cent in usage, having hosted only 4,061 vehicles compared to 9,972 during the same period last year.
Speaking to the Post about this substantial decrease, Cllr Conway said: “You only need to visit the Cattle Market to see a sea of emptiness!
"Family income is the lowest in Cornwall.
"A 60 per cent decrease in usage can be directly attributed to the increase in charges. A reduction in charges should increase patronage, this has a direct impact on the viability of town centre businesses.
"We cannot let Lanson become a ghost town.”
Raising the issue at a recent town council meeting, Cllr Conway urged his fellow councillors to “stand up for Lanson”.
In response to the reduction, a Cornwall Council spokesperson said: “The statistics presented at the recent Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting were a ‘snapshot’ representing a four month time period.
"There are many factors which will have an influence on the demand on our car parks – seasonal variations, weather, events, visitor numbers, events, social economic factors and the availability of public transport.
“Lower car park usage does not necessarily mean less people are visiting the town centre. It may be premature to draw any firm conclusions until a full year’s data is available. In response to feedback from residents, we are proposing to introduce a discount on season tickets for Cornwall residents which will make parking more affordable and accessible for those who regularly park in any of our car parks. Public consultation on these proposals is due to take place shortly.”