Parking charges – Is it that simple?
Yesterday, Wednesday, the Parking Panel met to go though the final phase of the work they have been doing for the last 9 months before it goes out to the formal public consultation. This process was coming up with one policy from the 6 of the former District Councils. It’s not been an easy task, but then I knew that when I took the role as Chairman.
Everything on the table was up for discussion; nothing had been set in stone and could be tweaked, changed or removed if needed. I am going to be honest that some people will not like it. But would they no matter what decision had been taken?
I made sure that the Public, Town and Parish Councils, business organisations and Cornwall Councillors were asked for their views on this process. Out of the 270 Town and Parish Council that received a person letter from me asking for their views only around 50 responded. 65 out of 123 Cornwall Councillors responded. I also encouraged as many of the public to send in their views. I am not sure what else could be done to make sure people responded without knocking on people’s doors to tell them.
So yesterday we made some proposal on those views and the requirement to achieve a certain income from the parking. Like it or not, charging for parking does pay for services that you and I receive. Making it all free is good, but that would require an increase in Council Tax of around 6-8% to achieve the same level of funding. I have listened to just about every idea that people have thought of. Some are just unworkable, but others had merits that have been incorporated into the proposals. One of the most asked for issues to be addressed was the need for cheap 1 hour car-parking to encourage people to use the town centres instead of going to the out of town retailers.
On that note, most areas will see a drop in the first hour charge down to 50p and £1 (larger towns Like Truro, Falmouth, Penzance and Newquay). We also looked into the effect of those areas that are currently paying 20p. It was felt by the Panel that the increase to 50p should be phased in over 3 years this was to be done in Gunnislake, Millbrook, Callington and Liskeard to ease the effect on the towns. Saltash and Torpoint were also treated slightly different because of their closeness to Plymouth. Their charge was 30p for the first hour with no staged rise.
The charging period was also looked at and most areas saw a reduction in the charging period. In most areas an extra 3 hours are made free. For example Helston/Porthleven would see a charging period of 9am till 4pm. Instead of 8am till 6pm. In the larger towns like Falmouth, Newquay, Penzance there would only be an evening charge in the summer only. The other times of the year it would be free from 5pm. This is again a change for the better.
Season tickets have I regret gone up. For a yearly season ticket it will cost 150 x the daily rate. In most places this has gone up, but this will be scaled in for the first year of 100 days then 150 days for the second year. This means you can park in 4 named car-parks all year, but only pay 100 days (first year). So in real terms you get 265 days free. To ease the burden of paying for these permits, a monthly payment system will be introduced in addition to the weekly, 3, 6 and 12 monthly payments.
Tourist will be able to buy a weekly ticket for £30 to park in all long-stay car-parks. This was asked for by business organisations and those in the tourist trade.
As you can read there have been some improvements to the parking charges. It’s not an exact science, and can be still be tweaked before it’s implemented on April 1st 2011. Quite a few of the longer hour charges have gone up, but we have tried to keep them as low as possible.
If you feel strongly on any of these issues, then please respond during the public consultation. It would be great if you could say why and how you would improve the current charges. It would be better than just saying “don’t like it”.