Town’s objections to parking charges may lead to legal fight

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Residents in Steyning say they will fight to the end to stop new parking charges being introduced in the town by Horsham District Council.

Local campaigner Mike Kelly said that Steyning Parish Council at a meeting on Monday night called for full support from the town - and neighbouring villages - to consider a combined appeal against the charges and would support legal action if necessary.

He said the council were calling for combined support from the neighbouring parishes of Pulborough, Storrington and Billingshurst which also face the imposition of parking fees.

Opposition to the charges have already been voiced by local shopkeepers and the Steyning and District Business Chamber who fear that people will be deterred from shopping locally if they have to pay to park.

“The chamber of commerce feels that the charges will destroy Steyning,” said Mike Kelly. He said a delegation from the parish council had met district council representatives to voice their concerns but felt they had been fobbed off. “Horsham District Council seem to have dug their heels in.”

The district council is proposing to bring in £12-a-year charges for short stays, along with pay and display machines and £130-a-year season tickets.

It says it needs to raise around £300,000 to fund the car parks because of Government funding cuts.

But Mr Kelly said the proposed new parking machines would take only credit or debit cards, making parking more difficult for many. Some people, he said, would simply boycott the car parks and park in residential roads. Others would boycott the town entirely and shop elsewhere.

“Steyning is a heritage town, but we’re not just worried about ourselves. It is also our visitors; we’re a gateway to walks over the Downs.”

The town council has already said it would raise its own level of council tax to cover the parking costs if it had to. And, said Mike Kelly, the parish council would “go to the full extent of law if necessary.”

Nick Hempleman of the Steyning Produce Company said that businesses would be prepared to fund a judicial review if it had to. “Nobody in Steyning feels they are being listened to.”

He said objections had also been raised by Steyning Grammar School and by the local fire service.