THE Green administration at the Forest Council has pulled back from imposing a 300 per cent increase in parking charges.

The council initially consulted on increasing the cost of parking for up to two hours from 50p to £2 – and faced a  public backlash.

Instead, when the councillors consider the administration’s proposed Budget later this month, they will be asked to approve a lower increase and the extension of an hour’s free parking to all car parks.

The council’s Cabinet agreed the change at its meeting last Thursday (February 8).

Council leader Cllr Mark Topping (Lydney West and Aylburton) said: “The feedback around car parking charges showed that many people understand why charges need to be raised, but that they felt there needed to be more free spaces available in our car parks. 

“We have listened to residents feedback, and we are proposing car parks will be free for the first hour, but that charges for longer stays will be raised. 

“We believe this will help local people who need to visit the shops, or the doctor’s surgery, but will also help us to increase revenue to maintain and make improvements to the car parks and toilets. 

“We also believe that by expanding the free parking available in our car parks it will reduce the number of people parking on residential streets, on kerbs and other places, helping to make the roads and pavements around our town centres safer for residents.”

The administration is proposing an overall increase in Council Tax of 2.99 per cent.

That would mean a charge of £205.80 on an “average” Band D house for services provided by the district council, an increase of £5.96.

Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Andy Moore (Newnham) said:

“As a council, we’ve seen significant cuts to our funding from government. 

“We have managed our finances well which means we aren’t in an immediate crisis, but a funding review of local government due in 2026 could see our budget slashed by a further 30 per cent and we must plan for that.  

“We have had to raise charges on some of our services that will enable the council to continue to provide the key services that residents rely on, including our work to prevent people becoming homeless, providing leisure services, bin collections and many others. It also enables us to reinvest money to maintain and improve the car parks and facilities, benefiting both businesses and residents of the Forest of Dean.”