A furious row has broken out in Petworth after Chichester District Council demanded money for the temporary suspension of car parking.
Tempers frayed at a full meeting of the town council last night (Thursday, June 15) when chairman Chris Kemp confronted Chichester district and West Sussex county councillor Janet Duncton on the issue.
He said he had received notice from the district council that the suspension of car parking spaces for radio broadcast in the Market Square would cost the town council £120 - £20 for each car parking space temporarily suspended.
But he said it was the first he had ever heard that a policy on charging for such suspensions existed.
“You come here once a month,” he told Cllr Duncton “you should have come and said ‘as from such and such a date you will be charged’.”
Cllr Duncton retorted: “If I had known I would have told you.”
Mr Kemp said town councillors had never been advised that there was a charge for the temporary suspension of car parking bays: “We have done this for free for the past two years for the farmer’s market and to now come and say you can only have it if you pay, unless its a wedding or a funeral, is outrageous.
“The district council claims we were sent paperwork explaining the farmer’s market was a special arrangement, but it was not sent and that was never made clear to me.”
He added: “What is bothering me is that this is a tax because the district council is not losing income - it costs them next to no money as we put up the notices and where does the money go? They are taxing us on a parking space that is not chargeable anyway.”
He said the district council was passing the buck, saying it was acting for the county council.
Michael Peet told the meeting he believed it was a stealth tax. “The only thing they can say is that they are charging for an average of penalties they might have collected for illegal parking.”
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