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Councils to apply pressure for station parking charge cut for Bishop's Stortford

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East Herts Council is set to team up with Herts County Council to railroad Bishop's Stortford's railway station car park operators into cutting prices.

Train commuters using town centre bays is one of the problems highlighted by traders and residents in a new report produced by a group of councillors.

The task and finish group from EHC's overview and scrutiny committee was headed by Bishop's Stortford councillor Holly Drake and included the committee chairman, Cllr John Wyllie, who also represents the town and is a Herts county councillor for Stortford and leader of the town council.

The five-strong group came up with six key recommendations which were accepted at a meeting in the district council's Bishop's Stortford base.

They include a proposal that measures should be taken to encourage train commuters to use station car parks rather than the council's town centre spaces and that the operators should be urged to reduce their charges to "something closer to the prevailing all-day charge in our town centres".

Greater Anglia's car parks in Stortford are run by NCP. Currently, the daily rate to park there is £10 compared with £4.40 in the council's car parks. Two multi-storey car parks are being built as part of the Goods Yard redevelopment.

Cllr Ken Crofton said: "We need to find a way to get our leader and chief executive to work with Herts County Council to approach rail operators to see what they can do about it. They create so much parking because of the costs. It's work that needs to be looked at in detail."

The task and finish group's report also recommends:

+ redesignating the council's car parks to ensure most long-stay spaces are on the periphery, with charges "set at a level that supports town centre workers in particular" after discussion with the town's BID (Business Improvement District) board

+ a new permit scheme for workers, allowing them to use residents' permit zones, to free up more short-stay bays alongside promotion of the existing provision in the Chantry area, backed by more flexible payment terms for season tickets

+ extending the number of free, limited-waiting bays to support the town's economic well-being

+ increasing blue badge provision for the disabled, with the aim of reaching the 6% of total spaces recommended by the Department for Transport

+ a range of environmentally-friendly measures, including more charging points for electric vehicles as well as supporting the 'modal shift' which the county council believes will lead to more walking, cycling and use of public transport.

Cllr Crofton said: "We have to be careful that we don't become anti-car too soon. Let's face it, without cars, our town centre [businesses] would grind to a halt and collapse."

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