Calls to freeze parking charges at ‘dangerous’ and ‘disgusting’ Ramsgate multi-storey car park

Royal Harbour multi-storey Photo Frank Leppard

The “disgusting” and “dangerous” state of the Royal Harbour multi-storey car park in Ramsgate should make it exempt from a 10% hike in parking charges, say Labour and Green councillors.

The issue was raised at a Thanet council meeting on Thursday (February 9) during a budget discussion.

Thanet council is imposing a 10% rise broadly across all fees and charges, including off-street parking, as part of the authority’s 2023/24 budget.

But Labour leader Rick Everitt proposed an amendment to freeze charges at the Leopold Street car park in light of its disgusting state, issues with antisocial behaviour and lifts that have not worked since before the pandemic.

Photo Frank Leppard

The lift are boarded up, meaning people either take the stairs or, if they are disabled or have a pushchair/pram, they are forced to use the vehicle ramps to change floors.

The fire doors at the site are also in poor repair, the structure suffers areas of ‘concrete cancer’ and there are often pools of water inside after rain.

Cllr Everitt suggested using £20,000 of the funding allocated for seaweed removal to cover the loss of revenue as a result of freezing parking prices at the site.

Branding the multi-storey “an embarrassment for the town” he added that £332,000 had been allocated for lift repairs in 2021 when the council was Labour-led.

Photo Frank Leppard

The leadership of the council was taken over by the Conservatives in Summer of that year. The £332k remains in council reserves but the lifts have not yet been repaired and remain  boarded up.

New fire doors and concrete works are planned but there is no published schedule for lift repairs as yet.

Cllr Everitt said people being forced to use the vehicle ramps was “a basic failing of health and safety of which this council should be ashamed.”

He added: “This car park in its current state does not merit a 10% increase. It is deteriorating and offers worse facilities and the pricing should reflect that.”

Photo Frank Leppard

His call was backed by Tricia Austin, from Thanet Green Party, who said the issues needed to be dealt with “as a matter of urgency.”

After the meeting Cllr Austin said: “The state of the car park is shocking: pedestrians and wheelchair users having to use the ramps creates a real safety hazard, and it’s dirty and smelly, giving a terrible impression to visitors. I’ll be writing to the Cabinet member and Head of Service again tomorrow to ask for a timescale for urgently needed improvements.

“We were promised a parking review 18 months ago but nothing has happened, so it was good to hear last night that it’s finally about to begin. It’s vital that residents and traders across the Isle are consulted, so everyone’s voice is heard.

“Our strategy must include making our car parks affordable and attractive, so people park there rather than on our narrow streets, and making our towns and villages safer and more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists so more people have the option not to drive, so our streets aren’t clogged with traffic and our air is cleaner.”

Photo Frank Leppard

However, Cabinet member for finance David Saunders and council leader Ash Ashbee said the charges could be looked at as part of an upcoming parking review rather than reducing the amount of money earmarked for seaweed removal around the Thanet  coast.

Cllr Ashbee added: “It is a disgusting car park but I fail to see how £20,000 is going to help things. What we need is a sustainable future for the car park.”

She said it needed to “earn its living” rather than have money thrown at it which could then be reinvested.

Photo Frank Leppard

Cllr Saunders branded the multi-storey an ‘architectural disaster’ and said keeping the charges at the current level would be considered during the parking review which is due to get underway in April. He added that it was unfortunate the proposal had not been brought up earlier in the budget process.

Thanet council currently pays annual rent for the multi-storey in excess of £200,000 (2017 figures) per year. As part of the financing arrangements for the construction of Thanet’s multi storey car parks in the 1970s the council owned sites at Mill Lane and Leopold Street were leased to a finance company. The finance company funded the construction and then leased them back to the council from 1977,recouping their investment in the form of rents.

Photo Frank Leppard

The council plans to buy the Leopold Street site in 2025/26. The £3million-plus purchase had been planned for 2020 but did not take place. The option to buy must now wait for the site’s next 5-yearly rent review in 2025.

If the site isn’t bought, Thanet council is contracted to continue to pay rents, insurance and to carry out repairs and maintenance until 2073.

The budget amendment to freeze the parking fees was not passed but may still be put in place following the review which is expected to be completed by June.


  1. Well done Kathy, the last bit of the article shows how ,what was effectively a very early form of “private finance initiative” ,has drained untold amounts from thanets budgets. The opportunities to buy out the agreement have been eschewed by the councils of the day, i’d guesss because none were willing to accept short term pain for longterm gain. If ever there was an issue worthy of a properly argued local referendum ,the multistorey car parks ,is it. Should have been done when TDC could have borrowed at historically low interest rates.

  2. It’s awful. How TDC have got the nerve to change anything for parking there is beyond me. It absolutely reeks of urine in every stairwell and feels very unsafe.

    In some ways, it is symbolic of Thanet Council as a whole. Falling apart, in a disgusting state, but costs us more and more every year.

    • To be fair, it’s hardly TDC’s fault that the carpark is seemingly a structure that brings on the irrepressible to have a piss.

  3. The car park,the whole area is a disgrace.What do you expect.Drive down the hill to the harbour and see all the litter to your left.Look right and see all the weeds and grass clumps growing in the kerbs and paving stones along with the graffiti. Quite easily the worst approach to a seaside town Ive ever seen.So I wonder how may tourists return.Maybe if more did we could afford to spend money on improving things.TDC are shortsighted.

  4. Thanet council stinks. Margate has no bloody council. Nor Salmestoone nor Cliftonville. Oh rick when you lead us into more debt as leader you could have cleaned up your smelly car park where people piddle or poop. Clear up the filth out of your own pocket. After all you spent money in selling land no tax no rent changed agreements..

  5. What is happening regarding the lift, if you got the money to repair it, then do so, it’s disgraceful that disabled, elderly and mums with pushchairs are being key down so badly

  6. That car park should be knocked down if it has concrete cancer it’s not fit for purpose. Under health and safety regulations it’s not safe for users to have to walk on the vehicle ramps. If it remains open there should be 24 hour security cctv monitoring to catch the vandals. Tdc should have a graffiti team to remove all graffiti in Thanet. There seems to be more and more of it and nothing being done to catch those responsible.

  7. Do not use it, I do not. Council receive no revenue they are in a mess again .It should be FREE to try and revive trade and shops in the town. Building Westwood Cross was a master stake on their part.

  8. I would rather get a parking ticket than park in that cesspit of a Lark Park that’s all it has been allowed to become a place where yobs can go to throw eggs from the top floor onto vehicles driving past do graffiti and vandalism to the walls and lifts.
    The 3 main ways to stop graffiti idiots causing criminal damage
    1, local bylaw to compel businesses that spray paint cans should be locked in display cabinets ( many are stolen from stores)
    2. Notices posted in local shops and schools pointing out it’s a criminal offence to cause damage to property and fences.
    3, The council / property owners should remove the graffiti or paint over it as soon as it is done.
    4. The police and courts treat it seriously. The more vandalism is done the worse it becomes it lowers areas making people feel in safe and increasing more anti social behaviour.

  9. The Mill Lane Car Park in Margate isn’t much better. They’d be better off demolishing them. A smaller, single story, car park would at least be welcoming, even if it doesn’t hold as many cars.

    • Have a walk round it in the week, the majority of cars in there have council staff passes. It’d be intereting to see how the income for it is accounted and if the council pays for its staff to park there. Take away council use and i’d guess the place is just a waste of space, it’s not as if the high street especially the top end attracts many shoppers. I’d even hazard a guess that the council raises more from the residents parking permits in the St.Johns area along with parking fines and visitor permits , introduced to try and force people into using the carpark and not clog local roads. Milking local residents to balance the books is surely hardly the way a town should be run. It’s not as if residents at that end of town are the towns wealthiest.

  10. TDC, knocked down Meeting Street, the whole area, including our house, for car park, and other places in the town, and then to errect multi story car car park In leopold street, TDC have a lot to answer for.

  11. They have always been suspect, with a lot of underhand dealings, some of course that we know about.
    TDC………not fit for purpose and never have been. The old borough councils were much better!!

  12. Turn it into the Turner mk2 art gallery- very little difference in the art displayed there – the smell of piss is more organic art
    TDC will do b all until lease runs out and then buys/sell it to their friends at a knock down price and a good personal profit

  13. “Our strategy must include making our car parks affordable and attractive …”
    How about making public transport affordable and more attractive?

    • How about both?

      Anyway, currently bus fares are £2 per ticket, a BIG different to the nearly £7 that I usually pay to/from Canterbury – Birchington… and STILL the buses are often nearly empty while the roads are clogged with cars (so much for everyone struggling with money!).

  14. It amazes me that a big carpark like that dosnt have toilets. I expect many tourists park there when visiting the royal harbour. The carpark dosnt look very royal. It should have CCTV in there and be monitored properly. The toilets could pay for themselves if you had to pay to open the door and keep the druggies out.

  15. Kathy is not quite right. Back in 1974, thanks to the strings pulled by rural interests who thought they would be overreached by urban interests, we ended up with what is now a tripartite system of local government. Very expensive, full of gaming between each sector, and now likely to be reformed even in antediluvian Kent.
    Having got rid the the Boroughs of Ramsgate and Margate, and the Urban District of Broadstairs, Central Govt (Heath) funded multi-storey carparks, don’t me ask why!
    But some Districts (Thanet + Dover) promptly leased them out and so they ended up being owned by The Levington compost company (really!) and later I think the Danish/Swedish teachers retirement fund, or old Zippo Godden in the case of Dover.
    Fortunately, or unfortunately there was a buy back clause or clauses and Mill Lane was bought back, but not of course Ramsgate, because TDC never knowingly does anything for Ramsgate.
    It could be sorted, as there is a shortage of parking spaces in Ramsgate Town Centre, thanks to all the various apartment developments, with no parking, or inadequate parking being permitted, but TDC would rather let the place fall down than actually do anything that might resolve the situation.
    Its also a rotten bus station, with hardly any shelter, and has recently suffered fatalities. I am surprised that there has not been more accidents, as bus passengers sometimes emerge from behind a bus, without realising they are walking straight into the path of a car or truck.

  16. So many locals pay around £400+ (may be wrong,open to correction) £400+ for an annual car park B season permit i think its called season for tdc reasons.
    Tdc A season analy parking season is atm £ 640 ish. Where does the cash go to. so let down~again.
    The 7 quality photos supplied by Frank also shows a cop car parked in the motor cycle bay another cop car is there now. Were doomed

  17. As a couple from Scotland, who have holidayed in Ramsgate from the mid 2018s, barring Covid Rules, my take on this Carpark is, previously, you could buy a 5 day parking ticket, free on a Saturday, prices reasonable, however in later visits, weekly ticket/free Saturdays were gone. Anyone staying in hotels nearby, have no choice but to use this multi-storey, and to charge fees, from 0700hrs until 2200hrs I find unreasonable, as is last year, we found an increase in parking charges throughout the area. I totally agree the site is disgusting, but one thing in its favour is, locked access from 1900hrs till 0700hrs the next day, on level one and above. The site does have CCTV, on parking levels. Problems with the Parking Machines seemed to be a problem as well. Take the train to London, Brighton, Canterbury, days out, as we do, need to park the car here all day. We hope to visit again this year, but with the high cost of fuel just to get there, increased costs all round in eating out, hotels etc, tourists dont need increased parking charges. The state of this Carpark, and charges for use, will obviously be for local residents to decide on, but dont forget Tourists, day-trippers who come there to spend money.

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