CHARGING for parking a car is always a vexed issue, with a delicate balance between councils who want to profit from it and motorists who feel they are being unfairly taxed.
Councils quite understandably see charging as a revenue stream and successive administrations in Sheffield have increased charges to bolster their budgets.
There is obviously a need to cover the costs of paying for wardens and maintenance of on-street parking. The motorist will accept that some profit is part and parcel of running a council budget.
But one of the biggest gripes from motorists is the fact that the machines used do not dispense change.
Motorists often find themselves parting with more cash than they need to because they don’t have the right coins. But that is a choice they make.
That is, up until now. New charges introduced by this council, coupled with the inability of the machines to accept the new five pence piece, now means that motorists are being ripped off – there is no other phrase for it.
In April, the Royal Mint changed the production of five and 10 pence pieces meaning that current parking meters do not accept the new coins.
One month later Sheffield Council decided to put up parking charges to £1.55 an hour. As the machines won’t accept five pence pieces, that means they are now illegally overcharging motorists because their machines are not fit for purpose.
This is tantamount to theft. The council needs to reduce the charges or change its machines – they have no right to take money from our pockets by overcharging.
Key moment for our city centre
HAVING regretfully accepted that TJ Hughes must move, the question is what happens now to the store.
It is an iconic site, home to famous department store names such as Walsh’s, Rackhams and House of Fraser.
It is a key location, on the corner of High Street, a gateway to the markets and a stepping stone to Fargate and Tudor Square.
So let us not underestimate just what a key decision now needs to be made.
Unless we are careful, this area of the city centre could dwindle as the emphasis shifts towards the long-awaited development of The Moor.
This must not happen. We hope the landlord makes a responsible decision when signing up a new tenant.
And we hope Sheffield Council does everything in its power to ensure this area remains vibrant.