Today Cabinet had a mammoth agenda of over 1200 pages. In this agenda, there were many good items, but one item, the Town Parking Review I really struggled with as I felt it was flawed and financially driven. The two-parts of this review I will blog about are residents’ parking and on-street charging.
The theory behind residents’ parking is one I support. I get requests for this to happen in Porthleven. The request comes about because people feel they cannot park near – or in front – of their house. I live in an area where people park because they work in Porthleven, or are visiting. And therefore, I do understand the concern and issues about parking. However, for me I accept people will park where I live because people are either earning money in their job, spending money in Porthleven, or visiting someone in the street.
The Town Parking proposals contained within the report are proposed for an initial seven towns; Bude, Falmouth, Penryn, Newquay, Penzance, Newlyn, St. Ives, Truro and Wadebridge. If the proposals are implemented, a charge of £80 per for the first car and £120 for the second car would be levied. Currently, the charge per year is £25 for the first and £35 for the second car.
Many households have two or more cars due to work commitments and/or having children who still live at home and are of the age to drive. Therefore, the potential levy could be £200 per year (£16 per month) to park near your house. It is very important to highlight there will be no third or more permits issued. A quirk of the system is you are also not guaranteed a space.
My issue with this high charge is it maybe unaffordable for those on lower incomes. £16 per month may not seem much to those on a higher salary, but it is a lot for those who are not. As this proposal would be a whole town approach, the worry is where do you park if the fee is unaffordable and/or you have more than two of cars? You will have difficulty to find a space in a whole residents’ parking zone. Or if no zone, this area will be a magnet for anyone without a permit. This will just push the problem to another area.
A worrying factor is when the public was consulted (in the seven towns) only 31% supported the £80 charge. This is hardly a ringing endorsement of support. It also became apparent today that those existing residents’ parking schemes will see their charged increased to the £80 – this was confirmed today, but was not mentioned in the report. Furthermore, any surplus from the sale of the second permit, will be used for general spend (page 85 of the report). We are told the reason for the high charge is this covers the cost of implementation, but those costs are covered after three-years. There will be an on-going costs of enforcement.
I asked the Portfolio Holder if there was a threshold set support for the proposal to go forward. There was no clear response to this question. I raised another point on will there is a cap on the £80; no assurances were given. A further question was about the second permit is a revenue generator, what is to stop the first permit fee increasing year on year? Nothing…
The second part of the Parking Review is the likelihood of on-street charging to park being introduced. To put it in more simple terms; parking meters on our high streets. Charging to park on the high-street is something I fundamentally disagree with. It is nothing more than a further taxation on the public and is purely financially driven. The proposal set out in the report estimates a surplus of £330k will be raised per year through the utilisation of the 1,029 existing limited waiting bays and 220 newly creative on-street parking bays in the seven towns.
If this goes ahead, I believe it will harm the already under-threat high-street and will just drive people to out-of-town supermarkets or to on-line shopping – which in the last few years has seen a massive rise in use. If it starts in the seven towns, you can bet as the sun rises and sets each day, this will be rolled out to other towns. This will be a disaster to local town and village economies.
Of course the caveat to all I have said is all the details will be subject to further public consultation. It makes me a little suspicious that there will be any real changes to what was proposed today; as to date, over £250k has been spent on the proposals, with a total cost of implementation totalling over £720k.
I voted against this agenda item – as did Jim McKenna. The reason is these proposals are flawed and will result in causing more harm than solving the problems.
You can read the whole report HERE