‘Pay to pray’ row reignites

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A FRESH call to scrap parking charges on Sundays in Dacorum has fallen on deaf ears.

The Liberal Democrat opposition at Dacorum Borough Council called for a change of policy after delivering a petition of around 1,750 signatures to a meeting of the Conservative cabinet.

Councillor Lloyd Harris told the meeting: “We currently have to charge for our Sunday car parks whilst in Marlowes Shopping Centre it’s free on Sunday.

“Why would someone choose to pay for our car parks when they can park for free elsewhere?

“There’s no evidence that Sunday charges are generating a net revenue for us. Car parks on Sundays where I have visited them have been substantially below capacity.”

But members of the cabinet were not swayed by the argument. Councillor Julie Laws, environment and sustainability chief, said: “It’s a policy that was put in a year ago. It’s not a policy we’re proposing to change.

“It’s difficult to find evidence, because of the machines, of the income on a Sunday but we do feel there’s income on that.”

Instead the cabinet agreed a range of increases in the cost of parking that will come into force next April, raising a predicted £81,000.

The cost of parking all day will rise by between 30p and 50p but in some car parks it will drop and in the Water Gardens it will stay at £3.50. The price of visitor vouchers in residents’ parking zones will rise to £4 and £12 a book.

War veterans have been lobbying the council to waive charges on Remembrance Sunday since the policy came into force last year.