**See bottom of page for 2022 update**
We spent a few days in an apartment on Shanklin Esplanade recently. It had glorious views and was close enough to the seafront to hear the waves and eavesdrop on the runners jogging past.
The downside was that the apartment didn't have parking. Rather irritatingly, there were several empty spaces in the parking area below the flats which remained empty all week but none which were allocated to the flat we had rented.
On the plus side, it was a chance to test out my claim that the Isle of Wight Council's Weekly Tourist Permit for visitors is poor value for money.
The seven day pass was advertised on the parking sign as £52.90 when I arrived, although when I went into the parking app it actually wanted more than £60. Presumably it had added on an extra day for the remainder of the evening, even though it was past 6pm and should have only added £1 (by the way, this blog post is really quite tedious if you aren't interested in penny pinching - feel free to leave immediately and do something more interesting).
It's worth noting that the price of the weekly pass has increased in the last few years. In 2014, the price of the tourist permit was £39.25 so it should have been £44.65 by 2020 and only slightly more by 2021 once we take inflation into account (Bank of England inflation calculator).
The pay as go option is about £8-9 a day, so to save any money with the weekly pass you'd need to use it pretty much non stop.
I was convinced we wouldn't get value from it or at the very least I could kid myself that paying a few pounds a day is better than coughing up £60 in one go.
And the result?
In total, we spent £39.20 on pay as you go parking, so a saving of about £21 compared to the £60 which we would have paid for the parking permit. The reasons were:
The parking app wasn't perfect. In some car parks the evening rate lasted until 10am whilst in others it expired at 4.30am, even though that's not what it said on the signs. I ended up overpaying instead of setting an alarm to wake me up in the middle of the night. You also pay 20p every time you use the app, which I've included in my calculations.
So, my conclusion is that you are better to pay as you go as long as a) you don't mind a little bit of hassle to save a few pounds b) you're organised enough to not forget to keep topping up and c) you don't mind paying for parking on your phone. A couple of times, the car ended up 200m from the flat because the nearest spaces were taken. I could extend it from a distance rather than walking to the car and searching under the seat for more change.
Update December 2022: This blog post is now 18 months old, so I felt it was worth an update. My view has shifted a little, but not significantly. The price of permit has stayed the same, whilst parking charges have gone up a little. Most notably, it now costs £2 to leave in a council car park overnight.
The weekly permit is still at £52.90 which is good news when everything else in the UK has leapt up in price. However, you'd still need to be using the permit a lot to make it worthwhile. The Isle of Wight Council's long stay car parks are now £9.40 for 6-10 hours plus a £2 overnight charge during the peak months of April to October.
That means that leaving a car in a long stay car park for 24 hours would cost you £11.40. If you used it non-stop then a week's parking would be more than £70.
However, the reality is that you are going to be out and about with your car, plus there are quite a few car parks which aren't owned by the council.
We've also written a new guide to cheap and free parking which has some useful alternatives to paying the council car park prices.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog