Proposed hikes to pay and display charges in Lewisham should be higher, according to a councillor.  

The council is updating its 2014 parking policy to reduce emissions and improve air quality in the borough. 

New banded parking permit prices are set to be introduced if proposals are agreed next month at Mayor and Cabinet, while pay and display charges are set to rise to £2.  

See more: Diesel drivers could face huge hike 

But at a sustainable development select committee meeting on Wednesday (December 4), where the report was presented, Rushey Green Cllr Louise Krupski said the hike did not go far enough.  

The public consultation prior to the report showed that the majority of people were in favour of a borough-wide charge of £1.20 per hour, while 22 per cent thought it should be £1.60 or higher.  

Cllr Krupski said if the public had been given more comparative information during the consultation, the council could have put the prices “up even more”.   

She said: “There was a missed opportunity. 

“We talk about carrots and sticks a lot in this debate around car use but we already have the carrot, they’re called buses and it costs someone £1.50 to go into the town centre and it costs £1.50 to go home again – that’s £3.  

“In a way you’re still penalising people who are using public transport.  

“If you’re just popping in and out of town to do your shopping it’s going to cost you more to do that on the bus than taking a car and we’re trying to reduce car use in this borough.  

“That pricing – I can’t see that it’s going to put someone off taking their car into the town centre.” 

She said that the council needs to look at charges more regularly and monitor the impact they have.  

Ralph Wilkinson, head of public services at the council, said some of the people consulted thought it should go much higher.  

But he added: “Others thought it shouldn’t be that high and were worried about it.” 

He said the previous price hike five years ago received a lot of negative feedback.  

Grove Park Cllr Suzannah Clarke said there was a “fine line” between quality of life and parking charges and hikes could “disadvantage the poorest in society”.  

She said increasing the charges could result in more people shopping online and avoiding the high street.  

“We have to very much balance our encouraging the survival of our town centres over saying let’s just crush people with the car parking charges,” Cllr Clarke said.  

“There are a lot of people who do travel to town centres for multiple reasons in cars.  

“There are a lot of people who wouldn’t travel otherwise and significant research recently suggested that many women don’t because of safety issues, mobility issues, having babies on board and young transport.”

She told the committee from her own experience that travelling on public transport can be “hell” with young children.  

“We have to be very careful about equalities issues as well because I know we’re trying to get to air pollution but there are many layers – this is not quite as simple as ‘let’s whack the prices up’ because then you also disadvantage the poorest in society. 

“When [the report] says increasing the tariffs encourages better use of sustainable transport … transport is too expensive for many people.  

“What empowered people more than anything was access to transport but buses and trains are vastly expensive with constant increases above inflation.  

“The train is almost impossible, I go back to north east in my car now because the train costs an enormous amount.  

“We’re forcing people out of the car when not everyone has an alternative,” Cllr Clarke added.