Car parking fees are set to bring in £91,000 less than expected for the council this year – and motorists are being blamed for the shortfall.
A leading Boston borough councillor says drivers choosing to park in private or free car parks will lead to the authority making £950,000 instead of £1.041m.
Disability campaigners, who fought the introduction of charges for Blue Badge holders, have also been accused of contributing to the shortfall, as they delayed the implementation of fee changes by three months by protesting.
At a meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday, car park portfolio holder Coun Derek Richmond said: “Car parking predictions are not an exact science, and had things remained as they were when the forecast was done last year we would have an increase.”
Since the council increased charges a previously local authority-run site at B&M Bargains has become free of charge and another private site has also opened off South Square .
Coun Richmond added: “If you count the number of cars that are parked in that place on a daily basis, nine until five, that would be our losses.”
But Niall Armstrong, manager of the town’s Business Improvement District, said he did not blame people for choosing to park for free, adding: “If you get a free car park come up it doesn’t take long for people to use it.”
○He added that he thought Coun Richmond was probably right to say that free car parks have changed where people leave their cars, though he said he personally does not think parking in Boston was over-priced.
Mr Amrstrong would like to see parking reduced for a period each week to bring people into the town.
Boston’s Disability Forum had fought a campaign to try to force the authority into a U-turn over charges to Blue Badge holders.
At the time they said it was unfair to expect the disabled to pay the same amount, and it would impact on their dignity and independence.
Spokesman Becky Wood told The Standard: “We were not consulted with – we were just told what the council was going to do.
“Now they are trying to blame us for their car parking financial shortcomings.
“Why are they not getting parking charges money? Because disabled drivers are boycotting car parks or there are inadequate big enough spaces to get a wheelchair out safely.”
The council hopes to get the money back through ticket revenues. Coun Richmond added: “Thank goodness we increase charged and introduced Blue Badge charges, otherwise we would be way down.”