Plans to increase car parking charges in Farnham, Haslemere and across Waverley have been labelled “just wrong” by the council’s leader of the opposition.

Councillor Peter Martin, leader of the Conservative group, has said the move, which he says will see parking charges increase by 15 per cent on average, are unacceptable and will not help the future of the district’s High Streets.

In response Cllr Mark Merryweather, a member of Liberal Democrat-led coalition, pointed out that parking charges in the district had been frozen since 2021 and the new increase will represent an additional 10p at most for the first hour of parking in the area’s busiest short stay car parks.

Cllr Merryweather said: “The council’s car parking charges have been frozen since 2021 through the worst of the cost-of-living crisis, and this increase will at most add 10p (12.5 per cent) to the benchmark first hour of parking in our busiest short-stay car parks where capacity rather than pricing causes greater frustration.

“Our long-stay car parks still offer the best alternative value for workers and visitors alike, and our rates are consistently lower than those of our neighbouring Councils.

“Waverley’s faced explosive cost inflation just like everyone else. Our budgets have to be fair to all of our residents, not just those who can drive.”

The increased charges were approved at a council meeting on February 20. At the meeting an amendment put forward by the Conservatives suggesting only a seven per cent rise, was defeated.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Martin said: “Charges for two hours parking at the main car park in Farnham will now have increased by 67 per cent in less than three years. In Godalming’s Crown Court car park they will have risen by 32 per cent.

“In the context of a generous funding settlement for the coming year for Waverley by the Government raising parking charges by 15 per cent is just wrong.”

Responding to the defeated Conservative amendment Cllr Merryweather said that the smaller parking charge increase would have required money to be cut from other budgets, such as maintenance and repair of playgrounds, sports pavilions and leisure centres in order to be funded.

He also refuted claims that Waverley had been in receipt of generous Government funding stating that the £1 million one-year only Funding Guarantee Grant received was less than two thirds of the impact that inflation has had on council coffers and a fraction of the money paid out of the borough each year through business rates.