FRUSTRATIONS have been felt at the scrapping of a popular town centre parking plan.

Up until September, residents in Braintree could enjoy 10p parking after 3pm in car parks across the town.

The idea of axing the 10p after 3pm parking concession, which was designed to attract more people into towns was revealed as part of Braintree Council’s budget at the beginning of the year.

It was also planned to switch to a cashless service.

The 10p after 3pm concession officially ceased at the beginning of the month.

Now, residents are being left frustrated at the change, now being forced to pay normal car park rates.

Speaking to the Times, one resident who parked at the Victoria Square site, said they were “disappointed at having to pay £2.80 for three hours, despite just going in for an optician appointment at 3.30pm”.

Paul Johnson is the town's Pubwatch chairman and steward of the Constitutional Club, in Great Square.

He said: "Many of my members are all complaining. The parking situation in braintree is going from bad to worse.

"It feels like they are not wanting people to visit the town. In today's climate it is difficult enough without things getting more difficult."

But Braintree Council environment and customer services boss Tom Cunningham defended the move.

He said: “The 10p after 3pm concession was introduced in 2011 to support businesses by encouraging visitors into the town centres during the quieter times of the day.

“Since the pandemic, we have seen there has been a noticeable decline in the use of the car parks resulting in a reduction in the income we receive to run and maintain them.

“The move to a cashless payment system also makes the 10p after 3pm concession unviable due to service charges that are levied by service providers for customers using electronic payment methods that the council would incur.  

“This together with the rise in inflation impacting the cost of running the service means we have had to make some difficult decisions, ceasing the offer of 10p after 3pm being one of them.”

Mr Cunningham, who is also deputy leader of the council, added: “It is important that we strive to balance the council’s budget and with a current £2million shortfall, we must look at ways we can save on expenditure and increase income to help close the funding gap, so to ensure that essential services are protected.”

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