Ron Woodley, former deputy leader at Southend Council, has slammed “double standards” surrounding parking charges ahead of the charging period on the seafront being extended from 6-9pm.
The extended charging period will not include the Shorefield Road car park, near the Cliffs Pavilion, which is council-owned.
Mr Woodley, who represents Thorpe Ward, said the-cash strapped council is losing out on valuable revenue by not charging theatre-goers and theatre staff after 6pm.
He said: “If you take the equivalent of five days, only two-thirds of the year, the council will lose out on £250,000 of revenue. It’s a lot of money.
“They moan about needing to raise money and yet they don’t do things like that while they want to charge people for using a toilet.”
The extended charges will apply to all “Zone 1A” car parks along the seafront.
It currently costs £2.50 an hour to park in the 121-space Shorefield Road car park up until 6pm, which is also in Zone 1A.
Mr Woodley added: “If you start mucking around with different zones you are back to the bad old days where we had different car parks, different hours and different charges. We changed all that so it makes it simple.”
Paul Driscoll, marketing manager at the Cliffs Pavilion, said: “Anything that is going to dissuade people coming to the theatre is not in our interests. Parking in this area, since the council imposed residential permit-only parking all over this area, is very restricted. It’s drastically reduced parking options for patrons.
“As a business we would prefer not to see anything that would penalise our customers and potentially adversely affect the business.”
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Asked if the council was giving the theatre preferential treatment, council leader Stephen George said: “In a way we are because we are looking after those staff at the Cliffs Pavilion who work unsocial hours and therefore that car park is for their use as well as those using the Cliffs Pavilion.”
He added: “By raising car park charges, it helps us deliver a balanced budget and while I appreciate these increases will hurt people across our city, we have protected our vital services for vulnerable residents.”