Car Parking Charging – A Solution?
Today was long, very long, but what did I expect when it includes car parking and charging. I think most people who read this blog will understand my points of view and the issues that I have faced over the last couple of weeks, if not months.
The situation is poor, a £3m shortfall in predicted budget and no hidden pots of gold to suddenly pull out of the draw. I have felt at times like the wagon train surrounded by hoards of hostile natives who are after the Panels scalps. Then again in parking I doubt there ever will be the sound of a bugle signalling imminent rescue.
What happened today was the Panel made it perfectly clear that it would not accept, nor find all of the £3m. It also said it would not simply add any shortfall to the tariffs. As you could imagine this had the potential for one big stand-off between the Panel and the Cabinet.
If the Panel had simply ignored the situation, then how would that help, as the Panel had been formed to help and advise the Cabinet Member on car parking. Without the Panels work any proposals could have been easily delegated to officers without any Member imput. Would that have been better? I shall leave that call up to you, the reader.
Anyway, after a long discussion by all the Panel Members, as well as other Councillors (who don’t have a vote) a couple of recommendations were proposed and then voted on. These are as follows:
Option 1.2 Implement those elements of option 1 that are revenue positive in a town and delay other proposals until further discussion, specifically on the winter summer differentials. This in simple terms means no one will pay more that was advertised in the public consultation, but those areas that would have seen a reduction in first hour charging will no longer have it implemented. This tweaking finds around a £1m without just loading in all onto the tariffs.
Option 2 Investigate increased winter summer differentials on “destination” and “community” car parks separately over the year, with possible implementation during the year. Basically means looking for a summer/winter tariff system and look into what function certain car parks have.
Option 5 Season tickets were to be sold at a rate of 150 times the daily rate in the long term, discounted in some areas to 100 days in 2011/12. The full rate could be charged immediately (as from 1st April 2011).
These options would make up around £1.5m of the shortfall. Again, the Panel made it perfectly clear that the remaining money would have to be found from other areas as the Panel believes that enough is enough when charging is concerned.
For me, the first two options are a sensible way forward without just loading it onto the tariffs. As if we had not have worked to achieve something, then Cabinet could have just insisted on the full £3m. This would have equated to 30p on every tariff.
I am personally unhappy with option 5, but I as Chairman have to respect the Panels vote and defend this point. I have however added the issue of season tickets to the Panels work plan as I believe this area should be fully reviewed in detail. Currently, thoughout Cornwall, there are 1000 users of season tickets. I hope that as part of this review we can make these cheaper and more attractive to the residents of Cornwall.
I am sure many people out there are unhappy with these, or any proposals we come up with, but I do hope people understand the difficult job it is when it comes to charging for parking.