The Link Management company was yesterday urged to lower charges and improve services at the car parks it runs. This follows concern over the low usage rate, which has been blamed on charges that are a third higher than privately run facilities. The vice-chairman of Sha Tin District Council, Thomas Pang Cheung-wai, who joined a slow-drive protest yesterday, said the monthly discrepancy in rates could be as much as $500. 'A space in the private car park in Lucky Plaza in Sha Tin costs $1,000 a month, but it can cost up to $1,500 in public ones. Many of our residents would rather walk to private car parks than pay a few hundred [dollars] more.' The hourly rate in a public car park is $12, compared with $8 in a private one and $5 in an uncovered car park. Gladys Pang, who works in Sha Tin, said: 'They are expensive, yet the services are no better. The lighting is dim, parking spaces are narrower and a lot do not provide fixed parking spaces, which means you are not guaranteed a space even if you are willing to pay more.' The management firm said it had adjusted rates according to car parks' locations. But Mr Pang said charges were anything but flexible. 'Private car parks offer flexible rates [and] concessions ... but public car parks charge by the hour.' He said Sha Tin's public car park charges were higher because the Housing Department categorised Sha Tin as a city area. 'The charges are reasonable in real city areas like Mongkok and Tsim Sha Tsui, but for Sha Tin, 60 per cent of its population live in subsidised housing. The Link should take that into consideration.' Ten drivers joined yesterday's slow-drive protest from Tai Wai to Wong Tai Sin organised by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Mr Pang said public car parks in Wong Tai Sin had recently adjusted their hourly charge from $12 to $8 and it was time for others to follow.