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News - 24 November 2007

Council to take car parks from NCP

Brighton and Hove City Council believes it can improve standards in the city’s car parks if it brings them back under council management. The Council plans to re-invest the profits rather than see them go to a private operator.

The Council believes about £3m could be saved in the next decade by taking back five car parks currently run by NCP. These are Trafalgar Street, High Street in Kemptown, Carlton Hill, Regency Square and Oxford Court near the Open Market.

Money would be ploughed into improving these plus investing £1m in two car parks managed by the council – The Lanes under Brighton Town Hall and London Road.

Benefits would include new CCTV, lighting, barriers, payment machines, painting, maintenance and monitoring equipment for information on spaces.

The Council has been quite open about the fact that the car parks in the city that are currently run by the council are far from what might be described as models of excellence. But there is a firm belief that the extra cash raised from reclaiming the NCP run car parks would pay for over £1m of repairs to the other five car parks. This is something that is badly needed within the next five years.

New payment machines at the Lanes would enable variable tariffs and special offers. Revenues at the car park have been falling for three years. Officials say concerns about safety caused by bad lighting and shabby walkways could be the reason.

Chairman of the Environment Committee Cllr Geoffrey Theobald said, “I have been concerned about our car parks and how they are seen by visitors and residents for some years. I’ve been working on this since taking over in May so this will be a great improvement for all.

“There seems little point handing millions in profits to a private company when we could be taking them and using them to improve the car parks. NCP would be entitled to compensation. But even after this it’s likely we would have substantial savings, which we could then invest.

“Many people feel these car parks are very unwelcoming at night. The payment systems are unreliable and keep breaking down. This can make using them a very unpleasant experience for visitors and residents. That’s bad for the image of the city and a poor service for local people.”

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