Car Parking – Pay and Dismay
No one ever really likes Monday mornings as it is the first day back after a weekend. It is bad enough having the Monday morning blues without adding parking charges into the mix. This Monday (24th) is going one of those mornings and will no doubt go long into the afternoon, if not early evening. We now have a clearer picture of what is, and has happened within parking. I wish the initial estimates of only a £1m shortfall were true, but it is a lot worse. It is £3m. Yes, £3m for the 2011/12 period
How in the hell it is £3m you may well ask, and it is a very valid question, which, I will try and explain in further detail. The economic downturn coupled with a poor summer and Christmas period have left a £1.8m shortfall in predicted income for the 2010/11. To be honest for the last 3 years we have overall had poor weather during the main summer periods, and it does not take Einstein to workout that this would have a knock on effect on budgets. After all, this and future years summers could be the hottest on record and all our problems could be solved, but after the Met Office prediction of a BBQ summer a few years ago I will remain sceptical to say the least and it would not be best to factor the mystical science of weather forecasting (or some may say guess) into budget predictions.
The Business Rate (NDR) estimate has also been undervalued. This has resulted in a further £400k that needs to be added to the budget. Other liabilities were contracts by the former District Council’s that have recently come to light and are now accounted for properly. This totals another £400k. As you can see, this totals £3m. It has been calculated that over the next few years a certain amount is to be raised from car parking charges. This is a very moot point and is not an exact science, but listed here are those calculations.
A question that now needs to be asked and answered is how, or more importantly, should this shortfall be added to the 2011/12 budget. That question will have to be answered at Mondays meeting. There are some ideas that have been written in the report. It has been stressed though that these are not recommendations, but merely ideas to help any decision the Panel arrives at. It will be up to the Panel to accept some, all, none or come up with other ideas before a final recommendation is made to Cabinet on the 16th Feburary.
Listed here are the ideas.
Option 1.1 Implement the proposals previously agreed by the Panel and proposed to the Cabinet. Leave other matters such as winter summer differentials to the discussions over the year and potential implementation in 2012/13. Current prediction is a shortfall of £3.0m
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. Current prediction, on the basis of no further change to charges within the year is a shortfall of £2.0m This would clearly be altered if changes were made in the year. In addition we benefit from a significant increase in the predictability of the revenue.
A uniform increase of 10p on all rates across the board would raise £0.6m less any allowance for customer resistance. Approximations of revenue from other uniform increases can be extrapolated. 20p =£1.2m 30p =£1.8m
Option 1.3 As option 1.1, but with an immediate increase of tariffs of x pence added to the proposal previously put to consultation.
Option 1.4 As option 1.2, but with an immediate increase of tariffs of x pence added to the proposal previously put to consultation.
Option 1.5 Abandon all changes previously put to consultation, an immediate increase of x% on all tariffs by notice. A 2.5% increase will be needed to address VAT changes alone.
Option 2 Investigate increased winter summer differentials on “destination” and “community” car parks separately over the year, with possible implementation during the year.
Option 3 The desire to introduce a one coin first hour tariff is expensive in many areas. The first hour could be charged at approximately half the two hour rate saving an additional £0.6m over option 1.1 and £0.4m over option 1.2
Option 4 Option 3 could be introduced in long stay car parks only, keeping short stay at the advertised rates saving an additional £0.1m over option 1.1 and £0.1m over option 1.2
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 saving £0.2m, if introduced in October, it would save £0.07m in the year.
Whatever other options are implemented, it is possible that a shortfall in predicted income would still exist.
Option 6 Recommend to Cabinet that any remaining shortfall is removed from the expected revenue generated by car parking in Cornwall.
Many of these options are not going to be popular, then again paying for parking is never popular. The real question that needs to be asked corporately and at the very top is how parking should be treated. Should it be treated as a business, or as a service? Once this question has been answered then we as a Panel, the Council and the general public have a clear message on how car parking is run and charged.
For further information on Mondays meeting click HERE. It has all the budget figures for all the car parks in as much detail as possible. Please feel free to read and examine them, and if you can come up with any ideas between now and Monday then drop me a line.