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Council plans to scrap one hour’s free parking at car parks in Bushey

Motorists who park in Bushey and Radlett have told senior councillors they should not introduce new parking charges.

More than 1,500 people have signed a petition urging Hertsmere Borough Council to keep an hour’s free parking in the Hertfordshire town and nearby village.

Three councillors and a member of parliament presented a paper copy of the petition to the authority earlier in April.

The authority previously agreed to bring in a standard set of parking fees across its area last February – covering Borehamwood, Potters Bar, Bushey and Radlett.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time speaking to residents and they’re really concerned that the parking charge will have a massive effect on two things,” said Dean Russell.

The Conservative MP will contest Watford at the next general election when the constituency’s boundaries will change to take in Bushey North.

“On people who want to use the car park to just go in and get a prescription or pop in and get a loaf of bread.

“It’s an extra cost to them which might put them off parking and popping into the shops.

“And that has a knock-on effect for shopkeepers.

“You’ve got lots and lots of really wonderful shops and restaurants there, and actually, if people stop going, that’s going to make it harder for the shopkeepers to make a profit and it creates a risk of decline in that area.”

Conservative councillor Paul Morris, of Bushey Heath, said: “The difficulty here is you are penalising those that can least afford it.

“If you wanted to pick up a prescription which previously you weren’t paying for before you even get into the pharmacy, you are paying £1.10.

“That’s one side of the story. The other side of the story is the fact that you are undermining the retail businesses because whereas once upon a time you would go and pick up your quick item from the local retail shop, you are going to be driving the customer to areas where there is free parking, like the major shopping malls in Watford and other areas.”

Cllr Morris warned the council could “shoot itself in the foot” if businesses start to close with a “loss of business rates”.

Councils must spend the money they make from car parking on keeping car parks in good order, or on other travel and transport projects if they make a surplus.

They cannot use car park funds to prop up other services.

Council plans to scrap one hour's free parking at car parks in Bushey Harrow Online
Car Park (First Hour Free) in Radlett, Hertfordshire

Motorists can park free of charge for one hour at the Bushey Kemp Place, Bushey Country Club and Radlett Newberries car parks, before charges kick in for stays of two hours or longer.

But the authority has plans for a £1.10 parking charge for the first hour.

Tariffs at other car parks in Hertsmere will rise from £1 to £1.10 for the first hour, including at Hertsmere Civic Offices in Borehamwood and Wyllyotts Place in Potters Bar, agreed at the authority’s budget meeting in February.

On-street parking bays in Bushey and Radlett will remain free for 30 minutes’ parking – except in Bushey Hall Road where parking is free for 20 minutes and in Bushey Elstree Road, Radlett Aldenham Road and Radlett Oakway Parade, where parking is free for one hour.

Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Shenton is responsible for Hertsmere’s budget.

The Bushey St James councillor said in February that in the case of Radlett, Aldenham Parish Council had previously contributed to the costs of car park maintenance.

“They had been making a contribution but it was tiny compared to the full economic cost,” Cllr Shenton said.

The free parking offer in Radlett costs the taxpayer around £80,000 per year, according to a borough council report.

Aldenham Parish Council had contributed around £12,500 each year.

“We’re obliged to charge the same amount for Radlett car park as Borehamwood, Potters Bar, Bushey Heath, and all the other ones across the borough,” Cllr Shenton said.

Labour councillor Jeremy Newmark, who represents Borehamwood Cowley Hill and leads the authority, said: “Budget setting is always a complex and challenging process as we strive to deliver our vital key services without any cuts and provide value for money by using our assets to the optimum.”