Rethink planned over car parking charges in Midhurst and Petworth

A REVIEW of rural charges is to take place across the Midhurst and Petworth area after Chichester District Council found its car park management budget in the red.

Midhurst’s district councillor Gordon McAra said there was a deficit of more than £9,100 across the three Midhurst car parks which was not “particularly large”.

But in Selsey, officers were trying to come up with solutions to wipe out a £61,600 deficit.

The deficit in Petworth amounts to £9,867.

“What the district council want to do is to eliminate the deficits in the rural car parks and build in three per cent for inflation.”

It is 18 months since controversial car parking charges were introduced across Midhurst and Petworth.

The ticket machines were finally introduced in April 2011 after a hard-fought battle by communities in both Midhurst and Petworth who feared the added costs would drive shoppers and visitors away.

On Monday Mr McAra told fellow town councillors they would be receiving details of the various options being considered by the district council.

“They are going to start with a consultation with parish and town councils and that will be fed back to the Parking Forum who will make a recommendation to the council.”

He said he did not see the review as causing a “major problem” for Midhurst as there was not a big deficit. But he added: “We need to make sure we protect the interests of the town rather than simply roll over and have our stomachs tickled by Chichester District Council.”

He said town councillors would have to ensure retailers and visitor footfall were not affected by any options implemented.

“We need to keep our eye on this and make sure they don’t slip car parking changes in on Saturdays and Sundays.

But Mr McAra said he believed district council officers were well aware of the “delicacy of retail” in the town.