On 17th November 2021, Elmbridge Borough Council agreed to take away free parking on Sundays and to raise parking charges across the board.

In a cabinet meeting of the Elmbridge Borough Council last Wednesday, councillors unanimously agreed to proposals to raise fees of parking and community support services.

In the proposals put forward by Strategic Director of the Council, Ray Lee, parking in town center car parks and in station car parks is to be extended to Sundays from 10am – 5pm. The price per hour for parking in Elmbridge is also set to increase by 10p from £1.30 to £1.40.

The changes will be in place from February 2022.

The car parks experiencing rises are in the towns of: Walton-On-Thames, Cobham, Weybridge, Molesey and Esher.


Also included in the changes are 2%-15% rises in a large variety of community services ranging from meals services, transport services and dementia services.

Public opinion on these rises is negative. Users in Facebook groups based in Elmbridge complained strongly. One user described it as a ‘stealth tax’ whilst another found it ‘ironic’ that although they are ‘paying over 3 grand a year in council tax’ they still end up ‘paying for basic stuff that should be free.’ Many argued that rising charging costs would only drive customers away from local businesses to online shopping and disadvantage high street firms.

At the cabinet meeting which was open for the public to attend councillors spoke of the need to reduce deficits by either increasing revenue or reducing costs. Councillor Richard Williams (Esher Resident’s Association) said the changes were ‘entirely pragmatic’ as these charges are very important to the council’s revenue and these small rises will help reduce the budget deficits of the council.

The Leader of the council, Chris Sadler said “I think we’d all like to see free parking but that’s frankly not realistic these days. We’ll try and keep the increases down to a reasonable level.” Mr Sadler cited the example of Guildford which “makes around £10 million a year out of their car parking charges” and that in comparison Elmbridge is quite reasonable.

Despite the Facebook complaints, given the unanimous passing of these changes by the council, the rises seem to be fair - only a 10p rise per hour for parking and similar small rises elsewhere. Furthermore, the meeting report makes the point that since most shops are now open on Sundays and car parks are well used, charging Sunday users allows them to contribute to the maintenance and improving of car parks. It may cost people a bit more to go shopping by car in their local high street but the towns of Elmbridge are small and compact and simply walking to the shops can be a healthier, more environmentally-friendly alternative for budget cautious shoppers.