30 Sales, Fees and Charges (including Car Parking) 2022/23 PDF 168 KB
To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the associated report.
REASON FOR DECISION: Securing revenue in line with the Medium-Term Financial Strategy remains vital to balancing the budget annually in order to support all of the services provided by the Council.
Councillor Andrew Hickey provided a short summary of the discussion that took place at the Cabinet Advisory Board and then introduced John Strachan, Parking Manager, who presented the report as set out in the agenda.
Mr Nasir Jamil – Member of the Public
County Councillor Sarah Hamilton – Member of the Public
Councillor Nick Blackwell – Member of the Public
Mr Richard Barsley – Member of the Public
Councillor Meryl Flashman – Paddock Wood Town Council
Discussion and questions from Members included the following:
- The Chair thanked all the speakers for attending the meeting.
- Cabinet noted the significant interest in this item, specifically relating to parking charges. Given this, it was proposed that all items referring to parking charges would be subject to a four-week public consultation, to start on or around Monday 25 July 2022. The proposed parking charges for Dunorlan Park would be subject to a separate consultation, the date for which was still to be determined.
- The determination of car parking charges would be made by Cabinet following the end of the consultation period, to be implemented by 1 October 2022.
- Parking enforcement in Paddock Wood had been difficult. This was primarily due to Covid restrictions that had been in place. This meant only being able to have one enforcement officer per vehicle, where previously there had been two. Normal service had now resumed with one officer deployed to the car park, the other covering Commercial Road.
- In addition to regular patrols, the option for responsive patrols was available.
- There had been no rises in parking charges since 2017 and this therefore needed to be addressed.
- It was important for Communities and the Council to work together to find a solution. The views of the speakers were important and were welcomed by Cabinet.
- The facts in front of Cabinet were clear. There was a £944k deficit, rising to £3.5m by 2026. If the Council’s reserves continued to be used, they would run out.
- Not to act was not an option. The Council must protect and deliver the services that residents had come to expect.
- Protecting the local economy was paramount and this would not be put into jeopardy.
- The administration was not seeking to damage local businesses. It was clear from the report that on previous occasions where car parking charges were either reduced (reduced Sunday charging) or increased, it had no effect on footfall.
- A document titled ‘Assessing the Impact of car parking charges on town centre footfall’, produced at the request of the Welsh Government also confirmed that charges did not affect footfall.
- The link between the car and prosperity was a misconception which was still pervasive in current society. The car wasn’t the solution to everything. Research had now shown that motorists were not the people who returned to town centres as frequently has previously claimed, nor were they ... view the full minutes text for item 30
20 Sales, Fees and Charges (including Car Parking) 2022/23 PDF 168 KB
To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.
Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking introduced the report as set out in the agenda.
Mr Richard Barsley – Member of the Public
Cllr Rodney Atkins (statement read)
Cllr Raymond Moon
Cllr Matthew Bailey
Cllr Suzanne Wakeman
Prior to this item being opened for discussion and questions, Councillor Hickey stated that he had set the agenda to fix the budget deficit this year. The budgeting process, due to start soon, would go through a full bottom up consultation process.
Discussion and questions from Members including the following:
- Parking enforcement in Paddock Wood during the pandemic had been difficult. Normally, two Civic Enforcements Officers (CEO’s) would have been deployed in Paddock Wood and the surrounding areas. During the pandemic, the sharing of vehicles was prohibited and it was impractical to send two CEO’s in separate cars. However, since June normal practice had resumed, with one CEO concentrating on the car park, the other on Commercial Road.
- If requested, additional enforcement was available.
- Footway parking adjacent to double yellow lines was something the Council could also enforce. Where no double yellow lines existed was currently a matter for the police. However, the Council were exploring with the police possible measures to help tackle this. Also discussions with Kent County Council were suggested about possible physical measures e.g. bollards, that would prevent footway parking.
- The current cashless system for car parking payments was leading edge but it was recognised, that due to the number of options available this could be confusing for customers. However, the method customers used tended to be an even split between the various options, so to remove one would be difficult to justify.
- To help simplify the procedure the Council were looking at different signing options.
- Car park use in Paddock Wood in relation to the number of hours stayed was broken down as follows (2021 figures):
o up to 1 hour = over 80,000
o up to 2 hours – 15,000
o up to 3 hours = 2,400
o up to 4 hours = 1,700
o up to 6 hours = 1,800
- Given the level of 1 hour users, this would be the best source of income for the Council. Increasing the charges for the longer stays would not generate sufficient income to cover the associated maintenance and enforcement costs.
- It was commented that Paddock Wood did not have any vacant shops, the only empty premises was currently under offer.
- Car parking charges either using Ringo or the machines were the same.
- Some Members could not support the increase in charges, especially given the earlier comments about not including the increased use of car parking in the forecasting. It was understood there were reasons for prudence due to the pandemic, but given the level of public opposition it would be better to wait until later in the year before introducing any price increases.
- An internet campaign against Dunorlan charges had been going for ... view the full minutes text for item 20