11th Dec, 2019

Council refuses to rethink parking permit price-hike plan

Andy Morris 23rd Oct, 2019

THE COUNTY Council will not rethink its plan to raise residential parking permit charges by up to 220 per cent, despite opponents warning of the ‘misery’ it will cause.

Conservative-controlled Warwickshire County Council (WCC) voted down a motion by Labour councillors to review the proposal, which would see annual permit charges rise from £25 to a maximum of £80.

It was despite pressure from Rugby Borough Council (RBC), also controlled by the Conservatives, which voted unanimously to oppose the plan.

In a letter to WCC on behalf of RBC, the latter’s leader Coun Seb Lowe said: “The proposed increases are far too high. Rugby residents should be entitled to park on their streets without being excessively penalised for doing so.”

Labour County Councillor Maggie O’Rourke, who also sits on RBC, said: “Every single Rugby borough councillor – whether they were Tory, Lib Dem or Labour – voted a resounding no to the proposed increases and changes to the current parking permit scheme.

“I have been involved in local politics for more than 30 years and I have never seen such anger in the community I represent. It is quite clear these changes would have a detrimental impact on some of the most vulnerable and financially challenged residents.”

WCC Labour Group leader Coun Richard Chattaway added: “This isn’t a party political dispute, this is a community campaign led by residents who are determined to ensure the voices of their communities are heard.

“A large number of residents in the scheme are struggling to make ends meet. The scheme is supposed to support residents, but these proposals will clearly cause a great deal of misery to so many in our communities.”

The council told residents it needed to raise charges because the current rate “has not reflected the cost of running the permit scheme”.

But the council’s Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) scheme, which includes the permit scheme, generated a surplus in 2018-19 of just over £2million.

A WCC spokesperson said the surplus goes back into public transport and improving highways as well as subsidising the cost of the permit scheme.

They said: “The issue is whether more of the surplus, or all of it, should in future be spent on public transport and improving highways rather than subsidising residents’ permits.

“Many residents do not have sufficient off-street parking and depend on being able to park on the street near their homes. On the other hand, residents do not have any priority over other drivers when it comes to parking near their home unless we set up and run a residents’ permit scheme – and that costs money.”

They added there was an argument for residents to pay for the scheme’s administration costs if they wanted continued priority access to parking places.

“We are not planning to make a surplus on residents’ permits. The question is only whether residents should pay for the whole cost, or a greater share of the cost, of providing their permits.”

WCC has proposed two options – charging £80 for all residential permits, or alternatively charging households £35 for a first permit, £55 for a second and £80 for a third.

A report is due to go before WCC’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee in November, and then to the council’s ruling cabinet early next year. The council aims to implement changes next April.

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