CONTROVERSIAL plans to scrap free all-day car parking in East Lindsey have been approved following a lively debate.
East Lindsey District Council members have given the go ahead to change 13 free car parks into pay and display – the only free car parking provision will be the first hour free at these car parks.
Councillors also approved to introduce Sunday car parking charges across the district and to increase car parking tariffs to bring a standardisation of fees across the area.
The plans were approved by 36 votes to eight despite two petitions – one from businesses and shoppers in Louth and the other representing the businesses and communities of Coningsby, Tattershall and Woodhall Spa.
The changes will come into force from April.
The lively debate saw a divide between councillors representing the coast and inland market town communities.
Councillors representing Skegness argued that the current system is unfair to their residents who do not benefit from free car parking and have to pay higher car parking fees to carry out their shopping.
While councillors representing places such as Louth, Horncastle and Coningsby argued that the changes could have a detrimental effect on the local economy and the vitality of their communities which have different needs to the coast.
Councillors representing places such as Burgh le Marsh and Woodhall Spa, welcomed the introduction of fees as they claimed the current free system is abused.
Councillor Tony Bridges, the portfolio holder for the environment, responsible for parking, said at the meeting: "This is a major decision by the council and it is about fairness across the whole of the district. This is to support the financial strategy of the council, if we do not do something about it, we are in serious trouble.
"We have a complete mish-mash across the district with some paying, some not, some want to and some don't. We are talking about a 20 pence increase in most cases. This will generate £400,000 per annum. East Lindsey has the lowest council tax in the county and one of the lowest in the country. What's the alternative – front line services? You will all be coming to me then and our leader."
The council has not increased car parking since 2008.
Also approved was an alignment of the fees for the months of March and October on the foreshore car parks, an equalisation of the daily charging period from 8am-6pm to support the night time economy and allowing more time for disabled people to park.
Extra recommendations which were put forward and approved were to allow users of ELDC-run leisure facilities in Skegness and Mablethorpe to receive a refund on their car parking fee and to investigate costs and possible revenue generation of installing solar panels at the district car parks.