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Uttlesford car park charges increase comes into effect amid concerns for high street trade

New parking charges have come into force across Uttlesford, meaning motorists must pay more to use district council-run car parks for the first time in nine years.

The new tariff and season ticket charges kicked in on Monday (April 8) after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) agreed to increase prices for the first time since 2015.

It follows an independent parking review and public consultation on the proposed changes, which saw more than 500 people respond.

Stansted’s Crafton Green car park retains its season ticket spaces, but charges have gone up. Picture: Vikki Lince
Stansted’s Crafton Green car park retains its season ticket spaces, but charges have gone up. Picture: Vikki Lince

Prices for parking for half an hour, one hour and two hours have risen 50% across all UDC-run car parks in Stansted, Dunmow and Saffron Walden.

The changes also include extending the daily charging period in council car parks by an hour from 5pm to 6pm; introducing flat-rate tariffs for Sundays and bank holidays (£1.50 in Saffron Walden excluding Fairycroft/Waitrose car park, and £1 in Great Dunmow and Stansted Mountfitchet); and introducing hybrid season tickets to accommodate new working patterns.

In Stansted, concerns were quickly raised by the parish council over plans to scrap season tickets for the Crafton Green car park – which is owned by the parish council, not UDC. Its fears over the impact on traders led to the proposals being reversed and long-stay parking remains, although it has risen 50% from £3 to £4.50 a day.

Across the district, people have voiced concerns over “the huge impact” the increases could have on the high street as well as pushing parking onto residential streets.

A spokesman for UDC said: “In response to the comments, the council has made some significant alterations to the initial proposals – these include retaining the season ticket tariff at Crafton Green, retaining the 30-minute tariff in Saffron Walden car parks and reducing the proposed increase on season ticket charges.

“In addition, a revised Sunday tariff is being considered at Fairycroft Road car park [in Saffron Walden] following feedback by Waitrose. The alternative arrangements will be discussed at a cabinet meeting later this month.”

Stansted parish councillor Lois Prior warned the increase could affect volunteers and users of TouchPoint services at Crafton Green as well as clogging up residential streets. “Uttlesford will not be making many new friends among motorists with these ridiculously high charges,” she said.

UDC commissioned an independent review of its parking which formed the basis of its proposals. The changes were considered necessary to bring prices in line with inflation and to generate more income for the authority.

Cllr Neil Hargreaves, UDC’s portfolio holder for finance and the economy, said: “The tariffs have not changed since 2015 whilst the cost of operating the car parks has risen each year due to inflation, increasing the pressure on the council’s finances.

“Parking spaces are a finite resource and there is a balance to be struck between costs and keeping good turnover, and therefore availability of parking spaces, at the best level for both customers and businesses.”

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