New data shows that the first four months of the unpopular rise in parking charges in more than 100 car parks across Cornwall have seen an increase in use in around two-thirds of them, with an overall rise in revenue of over £1m.

Cornwall Council’s economic growth and development committee will discuss a review of the new parking structures and tariffs, which were introduced on May 31, at a meeting on Tuesday, November 21.

Members will also hear about a new season ticket scheme which will give residents of Cornwall a 50% discount if parking in the majority of long stay car parks, as well as a trial to use a car park in Bude for overnight parking for campervans and motorhomes, which could be rolled out across Cornwall if successful.

The council has collated data for a “limited window” from June to September of all  117 chargeable car parks to give an overview of usage.

The report, by a number of officers including strategic parking manager Zoe Hall, says there are many influences that drive car park usage, such as weather, major events, economic and social factors and visitor numbers during the summer period. The council says these factors are likely to explain why some usage levels have increased and others have decreased.

June usage – 88 car parks show an increase in usage with the highest being 231% in St Agnes’ Reppers Coombe car park (889 sessions in the four-month period in 2022 compared to 2,946 in the same period in 2023). However, the car park was not fully operational last year. There are 33 car parks which saw a decrease in usage, with the largest being 59% in Launceston Cattle Market.

July – 89 car parks show an increase in usage with the highest being 162% at St Agnes’ Reppers Coombe car park (not fully operational last year) with 32 car parks showing a decrease in usage; the largest being 73% at Seaton Bridge car park.

August – 79 car parks show an increase in usage with the highest being 142% at St Agnes’ Reppers Coombe car park (not fully operational last year) with 38 car parks seeing a decrease in usage, with the largest being 59% in Launceston Cattle Market.

September – 87 car parks show an increase in usage, with the highest being 553% at Millbrook Tregantle car park (again, not fully operational last year) and 30 car parks show a decrease in usage, with the largest being 60% in Launceston Cattle Market car park.

The majority of towns (24) have shown an overall increase in usage during the four-month comparative period in 2023 compared to 2022. However, three towns have shown an overall decline in usage of over 15% in 2023. Nine car parks saw a decrease in use of 13% or less compared with the same four months in 2022.

The towns and villages affected detrimentally include Callington, Launceston, Downderry, Camborne, Helford, Cawsand, Padstow, Boscastle and Mevagissey, whereas places with the the biggest growth include St Agnes, St Austell, Saltash, Newquay, Torpoint and Tintagel.

The report adds: “There are specific car parks that are showing a decrease in usage. This may be due to a number of factors, such as car parks being affected by low seasonal visitor numbers or specific reasons, such as in Callington, where the first hour was previously free in a deal between Co-op and B&M, but still recorded as a transaction.”

Sunday charging was introduced in all car parks, whereas previously it applied only in 73 out of the 117 chargeable car parks. The data from ten sample car parks shows that use on a Sunday is continuing to take place and “therefore it could be concluded that the introduction of the Sunday tariffs has minimal impact on usage”.

Historically, evening charging only applied in St Ives car parks and some Falmouth car parks. However, for consistency, all Zone A car parks now charge from 6pm. There is no comparative data available as evening parking was free until May 31. What the data does show is that these car parks are being well used after 6pm. Moorfield in Truro has averaged around 2,500 visits after 6pm each month since June, while Clarence Street car park in Penzance has an average of around 500 visits each month after 6pm.

Since the introduction of card payment at the pay stations, there has been a significant drop in payment by coin and cash, over 50%, which, according to the report, shows that motorists are choosing the convenience of the card or app methods of payment.

Payment by cash for the period year-on-year dropped by 53.1% with revenue dropping from £2,797,945.33 in 2022 to £1,312,285.05 this year, use of the JustPark app dropped by 26.2% from £3,696,675.37 to £2,727,966.50, but pay and display payment by card has risen by a massive 2106.22%, from £139,666.61 in 2022 to £3,081,350.90 in 2023.

‘Pay on foot’ parking by card (that is drivers paying before returning to their vehicle) has increased by 35.61% from £1,925,987.56 to £2,611,745.98.

The total parking revenue for the four-month period year-on-year has risen from £8,560,274.87 in 2022 to £9,733,348.44 this year – an increase of 13.7%.

The report states: “The data shows a snapshot of the impact the 2023 parking order has had on usage throughout Cornwall, although it may be premature to draw any firm conclusions until at least a full year’s data is available. However, the proposed changes to the parking order have been influenced by this information, to make further positive change.”

That “further positive change” includes the introduction of a residents’ season tickets scheme which will allow residents of Cornwall to purchase a season ticket for the majority of long stay car parks with a 50% discount of the advertised price. The scheme will cover six, seven and 12-month season tickets and will be available to all residents of Cornwall upon receipt of valid proof of residency. The aim is for the scheme to “go live” from April 2024.

“It is acknowledged that whilst this may result in a slight drop in income, it offers greater opportunity for residents of Cornwall to access affordable parking products and support economic vitality of town centres,” says the report.

The Crescent car park in Bude has been identified as a potential site to trial campervans/motorhomes to park overnight with a specific charge. The proposed change will be implemented as a 12-month trial to allow data to be collected with a view to rolling this out to other locations in the future. It is proposed that a tariff is applied to reflect the zonal model: Zone A – £25 overnight session (6pm to 9am), Zone B – £20 overnight session (6pm to 9am) and Zone C – £15 overnight session (6pm to 9am).

The council’s portfolio holder for transport Cllr Richard Williams-Pears has been approached for a comment on the parking data.