SCANDALOUS. Predictable. Not a good thing.

These are just some of the words used by traders in Alton and Petersfield to describe an inflation-busting rise in parking charges in the two towns.

Details of the proposed increases at district council-run sites have now been revealed, with prices set to rise by an average of 26.7 per cent.

The biggest proposed increase is the 30 per cent rise in the cost of a one-hour ticket from £1 to £1.30. The cost of a two-hour stay is expected to rise by 28.5 per cent from £1.40 to £1.80, while motorists can expect to pay £8.80 instead of £7 for an all-day stay.

The increases – which are likely to be approved by cabinet members next week – are expected to raise around £490,000 extra for the council. Ticketing income in Alton is expected to rise from £575,237 to £737,418, while the jump in Petersfield is from £1.182,257 to £1,509,251.

While they appreciate the increases are unlikely to be welcomed by motorists and traders, bean-counters at the council are adamant it’s the right time.

A five-year plan drawn up in 2017 which put forward gradual increases was scrapped because of the pandemic, while EHDC also lost money by losing on-street parking enforcement duties to the county council. Still, the reaction from independent traders in Petersfield hasn’t been sympathetic, with Townhouse owner Dom Humphries calling the rises “scandalous”.

He said: “It will stop people going to all the small independent businesses and will add to the homogenisation of the High Street because they’ll go to Tesco instead.

“If you go to Midhurst it’s 40p for half an hour but here you’ve got to pay for one or two. Even a cursory 30p would help.”

Lucy Graham, Little Leaf Play Café owner, also felt some leniency would help traders. She said: “The main thing I hear from people coming into my shop is that they would stay longer but they have to go because the parking is running out.

“I think most people would pay a little bit more if they were getting more time, instead of just putting the price up for the same period.”

Joe Bicknell, of Hectors, said he felt a bit “ambivalent” towards the rises but would rather see the extra income being spent on improving the town centre.

He said: “The car parks are always full and I think my shoppers would probably spend a couple of quid for parking, but I just want them to spruce up the town a bit.”

The council also admits that the increases, which will cost around £9,000 to implement, will probably force more people to park on residential roads.

In Alton the High Street offers free on-street parking for half an hour, while those seeking a longer stay can park free for two hours in the Sainsbury’s car park.

Andrea Sleney, of Goldfinch Books, said: “Parking charges do have an impact on small businesses because if people are more likely to go somewhere with free parking they are less likely to come here.

“With Alton having a lot of villages it’s something else people have to bear in mind when they come into town.”