A NEW scheme that removed all evening parking charges from city car parks were supported by just one of the 60 consultees, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Southampton City Council approved the decision back in July to remove parking costs from all on-street pay and display bays and all council off-street car parks following a public consultation.

But the Echo can now reveal that just 55 of the 60 people who gave their opinions objected to the proposals, while one response was in support, and the remaining four responses were comments.

However, despite the number of concerns raised, the consultation document stated: “Following a detailed review of the responses it is not considered that any overriding concerns were raised.

“As such it is recommended that the proposals are approved for implementation as advertised.”

This has prompted a wave of complaints on social media, calling on the council to reverse the scheme, with one saying this scheme is a “huge step backwards”.

As well as this, numerous objections citied climate concerns.

One reads: “There is no evidence this move will help businesses in any way, while it will increase traffic, pollution, congestion and obesity in Southampton.”

Another stated: “There is no evidence that this will improve trade and there are better things to be spending council money on than subsidising parking.”

However, according to Cllr Moulton, support for the scheme has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

He said: “The city centre has really bounced back after the removal of lockdown restrictions earlier this year.

“It has been clear that local Labour councillors have been vehemently against free parking and will no doubt have used the formal consultation to object.

“This isn’t just anti-car its anti-growth and anti-jobs. Some of the comments reflect a desire to see improved public transport and cheaper bus services. We also support this and this is why we have brought in and extended £1 evening fares which will run until end of March next year.”

The removal of parking charges from all on-street pay and display bays between 6pm and 8pm and all council off-street car parks between 8pm and midnight is not the only change that was made.

It was also agreed to commit to proposing the re-implementation of evening charges in the council’s five multi-storey car parks from June 1 2023, and to suspend parking charges on Sundays in all council off-street car parks between midday and 6pm until January 2 2022.

However, the proposal to scrap evening charges from August 1 2021 onwards is estimated at £541,000 in the year of 2021/2022. Of the £541,000, there is an estimated loss of £131,000 for on-street parking income and a loss of £416,000 for off-street income.

Cllr Moulton continued: “The ongoing uncertainly with regards to Covid and new variants has shown however that our economic recovery cannot be taken for granted and the top priority for the new Administration is to continue to do everything we can to support jobs and the economy.

“Free evening parking for on street bays and council surface car parks is intended to be indefinite. Multi-story car parks will remain free in the evenings until June 2023.

“Free Sunday parking is until January 2 2022 and was always intended to take us through until the end of the Christmas period.”