Car parking charges in the Derbyshire Dales will be increased for the first time in four years, bringing in hundreds of thousands of pounds extra for the district council.
At a meeting of the authority’s community and environment committee on Thursday, plans to hike the fees were signed off by a vote of nine for, four against and one abstention.
This will see the cost for an hour of parking rise by 20p to £1.50, two hours by 30p to £2.50; three hours by 50p to £3.80; four hours by 60p to £5 and a day by 50p to £6.
It will cost the district council £28,000 to make the necessary changes to signage and pay and display machines, but the hike will bring the authority an extra £213,958 every year.
Another parking charge review will not take place for four years.
Conservative council leader, councillor Lewis Rose, said: “We have been round and round the proverbial circle about this and we do every four years, and we always say that we will see an adverse effect on businesses as a result of parking charges, but there are far more things out there waiting to pounce on businesses, like bad landlords.
“We are looking at making £214,000 extra per year for four years, getting up to near £1 million pounds extra, and the cost of looking after our frontline services is going up and up.
“Nobody ever comes up with alternatives that would stop us having to cut frontline services, but if you want to turn down £1 million then so be it.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Burfoot said that raising charges could have an adverse effect on town centres.
He said: “I have serious concerns about these increases. To do this in one go after four years is enormous and will be a shock to motorists and particularly those on low incomes.
“This is a disservice to workers and residents and there will be an increase in on-street parking.
“There is a risk that our towns become hospital towns with people driving round and round to find a free space.”
Thursday's meeting also saw an update on the ongoing saga to allocate a permanent site for travellers in the Derbyshire Dales, especially for one well-known family – comprising four caravans – who wish to remain and have close links to the area.
They have been stationed at the Agricultural Business Centre in Bakewell since March, sometimes joined by around a dozen more caravans from other families.
The district council has secured a court order to ban all but the known family from occupying the site for 12 months.
It has been revealed that the cost of the 52 unauthorised encampments that have taken place in the district over the past five years is £4,249.
The district council had come close to securing a permanent site for travellers in Watery Lane, Ashbourne, after an almost decade-long struggle.
But this has been put on indefinite hold after Derbyshire County Council put a ban on all land purchases around the town while it conducts a feasibility study for the Ashbourne Bypass. This would possibly stretch past the west of the town and cost a “sizeable six-figure sum”.
District councillor Helen Froggatt, who represents Bakewell, said: “Residents near the agricultural centre have been shut inside during the hot weather because they are scared.
“The district council has supplied a portable toilet, which is rarely seen being used with the river that close to it, at quite some cost to the council.
“Please do what you can to get them a permanent site, but please do not let it be in Bakewell, or there will be an uprising.”
Meanwhile, Siobhan Spencer, a member of the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group, said that a permanent solution must be found “as a matter of urgency” because she fears “they will not last another winter”.
She said: “It is really desperate now, they can’t do another winter, they barely made it through the last one and there are serious concerns for their social welfare.”
It was also raised in the meeting that there are 547 affordable homes for the area secured in the “development pipeline”.
Council officer Isabel Frenzel said that the authority was “punching above its weight” and Labour councillor Mike Ratcliffe said that the district council was “building more affordable houses for its size than some councils in more urban areas”.
Independent councillor Colin Swindell said that while the figure was “commendable”, he felt that the authority had missed a “huge opportunity” by not securing more affordable housing in the approved Cawdor Quarry development, near Matlock town centre.
This approval was for more than 500 homes on the disused quarry site and was hailed as being granted “for the greater good of Matlock”.