Parents are promised 'no drop-off fee' at The Green
PARENTS will not be charged to park on The Green when picking up or dropping off children at Hythe Bay Primary, the town council has promised.
Motorists will have to pay between 8am and 6pm, seven days a week, once new rules come into force but finance committee chairman Cllr John Schoner said parents would be exempt during key times.
Speaking at a public consultation meeting on Tuesday, he said Hythe Town Council had agreed to impose charges, to meet "heavy financial demands", but that final details had not yet been decided upon.
He said: "We intend to suck it and see.
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"When we put this forward last year, some of you gave us your views and we hope we've taken them into account to a certain extent.
"People were against the whole thing but we don't like increasing council tax and when, for example, we get a £9,000 bill for last year's referendum, we have to meet it.
"We had to raise tax for that but if we had another source of income, we might not have to in future."
Geoff German, chairman of the Hythe Green Preservation Society, said even if covenants on the land did not forbid charging for parking, as some thought, that "in line with the spirit and tradition of The Green, it should stay free."
He added: "When the Oaklands Medical Centre was built, there was a kind of assurance that patients could park on The Green free, so not to worry about lack of parking in Stade Street.
"On the 'thin end of the wedge' argument, I'm not accusing the council of Machiavellian schemes to build all over it but it worries me that if you're charging, in 40 years' time, that area could be extended. I just feel uncomfortable."
Cllr Schoner said that although the council planned to realign fencing to use all the existing tarmac, it had "no plans whatsoever" to build anything and that The Green was "sacrosanct".
Others at the meeting were concerned about town centre workers not being able to afford the charges and whether the fees would push cars into surrounding streets.
Cllr Schoner said the rate would not be over £1 per hour and that people working in Hythe would be able to buy permits at a reduced price. The council expects to make about £20,000 per year from the car park and Cllr Schoner said that if the income were high enough, the dropping of Sunday charges could be considered.
A CCTV camera is to be moved to cover The Green as part of the plans.