Parking – Hell in a Handcart

As I said before on an earlier blog today’s Parking Panel Meeting was going to be interesting to say the least. In other words, what had happened over the last few days was for want of a better word a disaster. I think that about sums up my feeling in my disappointment after so much work was put into this process.

The figures that ‘only’ just came to light are bad, no easy way to explain them. I am still struggling to think how these were missed before and not highlighted to the Panel. Today I have yet again looked back at the previous reports looking for clues to this situation, I found none. In all Council reports and before a report is presented, they have to be signed off by finance and this includes a financial risk indicator. The Panels previous reports all contained a ‘low risk’ indicator but we (the panel) were told today these proposals (presented to Cabinet on Weds) were high risk.

This information is not a couple of pounds. It is huge, and is split into various parts. The first one is a £900k shortfull in the budgeted revenue for the 09/10 period. So in other words the predicted amount is way short. Also, it turns out contracts made by the previous District Councils were accounted differently than what they should have. Furthermore, an additional £300k that needs to be added to the shortfall. There is also a further £100k in Non Domestic Rates mis-accounted for, or needs to be clarified. There are also further additional costs that have to be added to the shortfall. The final figure could be over £1.4m, a staggering amount to suddenly be made aware of.

For me as Chairman of this Panel I will be unwilling to simply add this shortfall to next years budget. I feel that people should not be made to pay for these errors or problems. I have always said that car parking should be as cheap and fair as possible. I feel that the powers-to-be should stop thinking that car-parking is a easy target for extra income. Sadly my role and that of the Panels is an advisory role, and even though it would love to be able to set the budget for car parking, this is not within its remit.

What the Panel will do between now and the next meeting on the 24th (Jan) is look into these recommendations again. From their responses today they will not be accepting any further increases in tariff charging, but will look at other proposals put forward today. These could take into account a lot of the ideas said today by the Panel and other Members of the Council.

Of course, any new proposal put forward should have full public consultation before implementation. The more difficult hurdle to overcome is convincing the Cabinet that the drop in revenue is justified and works. The line in the sand has been drawn by this Panel on charging. But will the Cabinet take heed and not think purely in cash terms?

10 comments

  • Anonymous

    hell in a handcart? it sounds very much like it, but how much would the council charge to park said handcart?

    guy fawkes – you were right!

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant post Andrew, we cannot take a further increase in parking charges. Businesses will just fail.

  • mellenoweth

    Great post again.

    Once again, the council has demonstrated appalling lack of basic financial management. Once again nothing will happen and no-one will be accountable. Why are the execs and cabinet paid a lot of money when they clearly have no idea what money they have nor what they're spending it on. How can _any_ of their financial statements or budget plans (or plans themselves!) be relied on? I have no faith left in the exec, cabinet or the finance side of the council.

    Time to rethink the £12m for County Hall and use it to plug these unfunded 'gaps' which keep appearing? Time to go for Option Pz instead of the unaffordable Option A?

    Also once again, it's the local councillors who explain, worry and try to do the right thing while the ground is repeatedly cut from under them.

    I'm so sad you must feel part of the work of you and your committee was wasted, but it's not your fault you were so poorly briefed and you've always done your best to keep us all informed which we appreciate.

    Just wish someone had some means of holding the exec to account and instituting some actual MANAGEMENT!

    Perhaps time for a complaint to the local government ombudsman as it's not just The Children's part of Cornwall Council which appears out of control.

  • Anonymous

    Good post totally agree with you. I would be interested to see how such a horrendous error was made. I have checked the stats for the Millpool car park and they are only 5% down on last year, Revenue for December 2010 was actually higher than the previous year, so you can hardly blame the weather. Just £14k difference from last year. These stats are available monthly and I have been collecting them for the last 2 years to give an indication to how the tourist season has performed, so it should not have been a surprise. Someone needs to do some explaining!
    Edwina Hannaford Looe

  • Anonymous

    Forgive my ignorance but what would happen if parking in somewhere like Truro was free, I.e. Would any increase in revenue for the merchants result in more cash in cornwalls coffers. Alternatively how much would commercial rates have to go up in Truro (as an example) to make in town and park and ride parking free?

  • Cllr Andrew Wallis

    To the last anon,

    It is a interesting question you ask. I do believe in part having cheaper parking will encourage people into the towns, but I believe you have to have the shops in town centres that people want first. Simply making parking cheap when there are no shops to go to will not help town centres.

    As for the revenue that shops pay in NDR ( business rates) currently the Council does not keep this money. It is handed over to the Government. There are rumors afoot that Councils could keep this money, but at present nothing has been finalised. So putting up NDR rates to pay for car parking would not work.

  • Anonymous

    Good to read about lines in sand etc ,but what will you actually do if the Cabinet ignore your advice,what can you actually do?

  • Cllr Andrew Wallis

    @last anon

    There was always a risk that would happen as the Panel is set up in an advisory role. Hopefully they will accept the proposals due to the amount of work carried out.

  • Anonymous

    Yes but what will/can you do if your advice is ignored.

  • Anonymous

    Andrew – you believe!! per haps you should know.

    I went tothe butchers in helston today and they complained about the loss of trade to the big supermarkets – why should people pay to park in town when they can park out of town for free.

    You will never have the right shops in town with the attitude of penalising shoppers – they wont bother why should they.You certainly wont get the right shops with this approach.

    You need to grasp the nettle and make this happen – make it free (and i dont mean before 9am and after 4pm – which is clearly a crock of proverbial)

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