To consider the report of the head of development and corporate landlord.
Cabinet considered the report of the head of development and corporate landlord. This provided information to help the Cabinet undertake an annual review of the council’s car park fees, in line with the council’s policy, and to decide whether to change the fees for 2023/24. Cabinet noted that, for the first time, it was not being asked to review charges for penalties, as the level of car park penalty charges was now set by legislation, which changed on 1 November 2022 when the council introduced civil parking enforcement.
The car park policy, agreed by Cabinet
in August 2022, included guidance from the Road Traffic Regulation
Act 1984, which stated that council
enforcement should be self-financing, and that the council should aim for its parking income to at least meet the cost of running its car parks. The report set out the current fees and permits, together with a comparison of fees in other neighbouring car parks. It also set out the cost of providing the car parks service and ancillary services such as public conveniences, and projected income and expenditure over a five-year period.
Based on the current usage and estimated income and expenditure, the report set out options to allow the car park account to at least ‘break even’ in the medium term. The options for 2023/24 were:
1. No change to the current car parking fees
2. Increase all fees and permits by 10 per cent (rounded), in line with inflation
3. Create premium rate parking spaces
4. Extend the charging period from 6pm to 9pm at a fee of £1
5. Remove free parking and charge a nominal 50p for up to one hour
6. Introduce a fee for parking in the winter season at the Riverside car park in Wallingford, and amend the permit prices.
The Cabinet member, with responsibility for the car parks service, recommended that Cabinet approved option 2, increasing all fees and permits by 10 per cent, roughly in line with inflation.
The Cabinet member reviewed the other options. Option 1, no change to fees, was rejected as it would leave the council with a deficit in the car parks account. Option 3, providing differential pricing through premium rates nearer to main facilities, had merit but required further work and consultation with the towns. Option 4, charging for parking in the evening, also had merit but was not supported during the current cost-of-living crisis. However, options 3 and 4 could be explored for future years. Option 5, removing the one-hour free parking, was rejected as it would not help residents or town centre businesses during the current cost-of-living crisis. Option 6, charging for winter season parking at the Riverside car park in Wallingford, would cost more to introduce than the income it was expected to generate, and so was also rejected.
Cabinet welcomed the report with its options clearly set out. Cabinet supported the Cabinet member’s view that the council should increase its car park fees and permits by 10 per cent (rounded) with effect from 1 April 2023. Members believed that the car parks service should not be subsidised by those that did not use them. Parking would still cost less than £1 per hour as a result of these changes. Also, Cabinet welcomed investigations into introducing options 3 and 4 for future years, subject to consultation.
(a) agree the car parking fees for the financial year 2023-24, including increasing all fees and permits in line with inflation (10 per cent);
(b) authorise the head of legal and democratic to prepare a Notice of Variation under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for publishing in the local newspaper and all affected car parks; and
(c) authorise the head of development and corporate landlord to oversee necessary communications.