'Significant changes' have been made to Uttlesford District Council's plan to increase parking charges following a backlash from residents.

The council launched a consultation at the beginning of January on proposals to reset the charges and tariffs - which had not seen an increase in nearly 10 years.

Saffron Walden BID launched a petition objecting to the proposals, while also encouraging residents to respond to the consultation before it closed on Friday, February 2.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Cllr Neil HargreavesCllr Neil Hargreaves (Image: Uttlesford District Council)

In response, Cllr Neil Hargreaves, the council's portfolio holder for finance and the economy, has made changes to the proposals.

These include continuing 30-minute parking in Saffron Walden and reducing season ticket increases, particularly for those who pay monthly.

Respondents to the survey commented that the 30-minute parking slot is used for people picking up children from school or pharmacy prescriptions, and is especially useful for those coming from villages with no realistic option to walk.

Season ticket pricing was already more expensive for those paying monthly - and the external consultant advised increasing the differential.

The new proposals will see monthly season tickets decreased from £75 to £45, the three and six-month season pro rata to that, and the annual season tickets to be £450 instead of the original suggestion of £550 - therefore not increasing the differential for paying monthly.

Waitrose will continue to refund all of the first hour of parking in its car park.

Being part owners of the car park, Waitrose will receive an income share, as will a charity supporting Citizens Advice.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Uttlesford District CouncilUttlesford District Council (Image: Uttlesford District Council)

Cllr Hargreaves said: "I should think few people are aware that their parking at Waitrose supports this much valued and hard-pressed local service, which will now receive more income."

In Stansted, the Croft Green car park by the library and parish council office will retain its long-stay option, following comments that the nearby hotel has very limited parking.

Catons Lane car park in Saffron Walden is owned by the town council, not the district council - which pays the running costs but receives no income.

Cllr Hargreaves said: "Councils are required to consider value for money in every activity.

"Paying to provide free competition against the other UDC owned car parks does not comply with that requirement."

Cllr Hargreaves also explained that many of the comments related to areas other than parking, and will be addressed if within the council's remit.

He said: "Overall, we have listened and altered those areas where there was the greatest concern.


"Putting up charges is always unpopular, but this has been left for too long. It is also annual budgets time, and the proposal is for a second year of less than inflation increase of 2.99 per cent.

"Inflation is currently about four per cent and in 2022 peaked at 11 per cent. Last year’s increase was way below that rate of inflation.

"Residents should also be aware that although UDC collects the tax for all preceptors, more than nine-tenths of it goes to others, mostly Essex County Council.

"UDC council tax is only about £3.50 a week."