Controversial parking charges will be introduced to esplanades in Cowes and Gurnard after the Isle of Wight Council approved changes.

Income generation schemes, approved as part of the budget last year, will now be implemented in areas across the Island: extending charges on all esplanades to all year round, a £2 fee at Somerton Park and Ride to park all day and the introduction of charges between Egypt Esplanade, Cowes, and Princes Esplanade, Gurnard.

Speaking at the meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet, Councillor Ian Ward, the cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, said the revisions proposed in the parking order were to achieve fairness and consistency. He said:

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“Up until now any increase in parking charges was applied to existing car parks and on street locations, that means the residents that use those sites, were solely subjected to the rise in charges, while residents elsewhere would pay nothing at all — that cannot be regarded as fair.

“Surely it is better for everyone to pay a little more, than for some people to pay a lot more, again while others pay nothing.

“Of course nobody likes to pay more but I am sure all members understand the council’s finances are under pressure and the council must look for savings or income generation where it can.”

Cllr Ward said he had taken into account the 467 objections made – 449 alone for the Gurnard changes – but most of the points could be applied to other communities on the Island who already have to pay to park to use playgrounds, walk along the seafront or go to a sailing club.

The ward representative for Gurnard, Cllr Paul Fuller, had been fighting the introduction of charges, with the support of residents who started a petition to stop the changes.

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Cllr Wayne Whittle, the cabinet member for regeneration and business development, however, said it was lucky the esplanades in Gurnard and Cowes had escaped charges for as long as they had but needed to be introduced to make things fair. He said:

“I don’t think anyone should pay to park but we don’t live in that sort of world but we all have things to pay for like the Floating Bridge.”

Cllr Richard Hollis, chair of scrutiny, asked cabinet members to consider altering the proposals slightly, while still introducing the charges in Cowes and Gurnard, stopping them before it reached the edge of the village green, allowing people to park freely when accessing local businesses and the sailing club.

Council leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, said they couldconsider that going forward but would still vote on the entire parking order going forward.

Cabinet members unanimously voted in favour of implementing the parking order, and introducing the new charges.

It is estimated annually the charges will bring in an additional £157,900 — £33,900 from Somerton Park and Ride, £58,000 from all-year esplanade charges and £66,000 from Gurnard and Cowes esplanade.

Island Echo