Date Published: 24 August 2020
Parking charges are being reintroduced in council-run pay and display car parks in Oakham and Uppingham from Monday 7 September 2020.
Parking charges were initially suspended in March, to help support key workers and those making ‘essential’ journeys during the COVID-19 lockdown. They have remained suspended throughout summer in order to support the reopening of local businesses and encourage shoppers and visitors back to the high streets.
During this time, Rutland County Council has lost an estimated £250,000 income that it would normally expect to collect through parking charges. Fees and charges are vital for the Council because they help to fund the cost of important local services.
With lockdown having been eased, some local businesses have now been open for two months and vehicle use in towns is nearing pre-COVID levels. As a result, the Council is now looking to reintroduce charges in its car parks as part of normal traffic management processes.
Parking charges are unchanged and will stay at the same level they were when charges were suspended in March. The offer of free 30-minutes parking will also be reintroduced in all Council-run car parks in Uppingham and Oakham.
Normal on-street parking restrictions and resident permit fees will continue to apply, as they have done throughout the pandemic.
Rutland County Council is also taking steps to update and replace ageing parking machines in its car parks. New machines will only accept contactless card payments, with pay-by-mobile options also available through RingGo. This follows a rise in the use of contactless payment methods since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to minimise the risk of virus transmission through the handling of cash.
Charges will return from 8.00am on Monday 7 September, when it is planned that new machines will be in place. The new machines will not accept coins, cash notes or chip and PIN card payments.
“We’ve suspended our parking charges in pay and display car parks for almost six months now. We felt this was important to do, initially to help those who still needed to move around and travel by car when the pandemic first hit. More recently, we’ve kept charges suspended throughout summer to try and support local businesses that saw a loss of trade during lockdown – hoping that unlimited free parking would help to attract shoppers back to the high street. Having monitored the traffic in both Oakham and Uppingham throughout the pandemic, we can say confidently that vehicle use has been back at pre-COVID levels for several weeks. We therefore feel that now is it right time to reintroduce normal parking charges, just as they were before the pandemic and with no increase in fees. I would also like to reassure residents that our Parking Officers will be taking a considerate approach to enforcement as people get used to paying for parking again. All local councils are facing considerable financial uncertainty. As we head towards the end of the year, we still have no idea what kind of financial settlement local authorities will receive from government after 2020 – if any. Equally, we are still counting the cost of COVID-19 and the serious impact this has had on our budgets. I hope people will understand, therefore, why it’s important that we reintroduce parking charges at this time.”
Councillor Lucy Stephenson, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
The RingGo parking service allows users to pay for parking with their mobile phone via a dedicated smartphone app, standard text message or with a phone call.
There is no need to display a ticket and drivers can extend their parking stay mid-session without having to return to their vehicles. To find out more, visit the RingGo website.