Green councillor calls for ‘no win’ city center free parking to be scrapped

12 January 2020

Green councillor, Diana Moore, has called for free parking in the city center on Thursday evenings, introduced by Exeter City Council in the summer last year, to be scrapped. The call comes following revelations that the council is set to lose at least £35,000 of parking income in the twelve-month trial period [1]. The council have also revealed that since the introduction of free parking, use of multi-storey carparks on Thursday evenings have increased by 3% but footfall in the city has remained static.

Cllr Moore, who raised questions with the council over the introduction of free parking, said:

"The city council has revealed that it is set to lose at least £35,000 as a result of offering free parking. This has increased car journeys into the city center on Thursday evenings, adding to congestion and air pollution, but without any apparent increase in the use of city center shops.

"So the council is losing vital revenue, and there is a cost to our environment and health which is suffering from the extra car journeys while city center businesses appear to be gaining nothing from the policy. This is a no-win move, it's time to scrap free parking on Thursday evenings."

Greens say that the lost revenue could be funding public toilets in the city. More than half of Exeter's public toilets closed last year, shortly before the introduction of free parking on Thursday evenings.

Cllr Moore said:

"It seems the Council would rather offer free parking than free toilets. This is a case of distorted priorities and an extra £35,000 could certainly help fund the reopening of some of the city's toilets.

"Public toilets are important to many people, but especially the elderly, young children, pregnant women, those who may have incontinence problems and people who are homeless."

Councillor Diana Moore has written to council leader Phil Bialyk demanding that free parking on Thursday evenings be scrapped and city toilets re-opened.

Notes

[1] Question to Exeter City Council from Cllr Diana Moore:
Since the introduction of free Thursday evening car parking this year how much parking charge income has been forgone compared to the same period last year (to the date of the committee is fine or the end of September)? What rise in the number of car park users has there been on a Thursday evening over the same period compared to the same period last year?

The City Council officer responded:
'We obviously have not had a full year yet but our estimate is based on a projected 8,000 transactions after 6pm at £4.40 each (2 hours) so we're losing in the region of £35K per annum during the 12 month trial period. We've had a small (3%) increase in numbers using the multi-story car parks on Thursday night. Overall we've had a reduction in numbers of users of our car parks, although city center footfall has remained the same. There are likely to be a wide number of reasons for this but once we have a full years data we will be able to analyse further'