MASSIVE hikes in the cost of residents’ parking permits being proposed by Warwickshire County Council have been branded ‘unacceptable’.
The Conservative controlled council has launched a consultation on changes to on-street parking which could mean residents in streets with permit schemes will have to fork out £80 a year to park outside their own homes – up from £25. An alternative proposal being considered would see residents pay £35 for a first permit, £55 for a second and £80 for a third.
And the council is also looking to limit visitors’ permits to a maximum of 50 days a year, at a cost of £50, after discovering some permits were being sold on by residents.
The council says the changes were needed because the cost of running the scheme – from implementation to enforcement – was not being met by current charges.
But the council told The Observer its overall Civil Parking Enforcement scheme – of which residents’ permits were a part – did not operate at a loss. The council declined however to tell The Observer the size of the deficit generated by the permit scheme, or how much was raised through parking fines – despite repeated requests.
The council’s Labour Group leader Richard Chattaway said the rise was ‘totally unacceptable’ and needed rethinking.
Coun Chattaway said: “A 220 per cent rise, when the cost of living is rising all the time, needs to be challenged.
“The administration seems to have lost complete touch of reality when it comes to money.”
He said residents had always been told the cost of permits would be kept low.
“I think the administration need to think about how much are they collecting from parking fines. It should be used to alleviate this problem – and that was the original concept as I understood it.
“They’ve suddenly realised they are running a scheme which isn’t doing what they said it was going to do.
“The council came in with a £14.4million underspend last year. A 220 per cent rise in one year is poor economic management.”
Lib Dem group leader Jerry Roodhouse called for greater consultation.
He said: “While a review had to take place, the proposals are unfair. We are not supporting them and will look at the results from the consultation.
“We would urge everyone to respond.”
Conservative councillor Jeff Clarke, the county’s transport spokesman, said the authority had to ensure services were cost-effective.
He added: “We have taken the decision to consult on proposals to raise permit prices to a level which reflects the cost of providing a permit parking scheme.
“Many residents’ parking schemes are introduced in response to requests from the residents themselves where there is little or no off-street parking provision.
“Where residents are broadly in support of a permit scheme, any such introduction needs to be managed and enforced – and this does incur cost.”
The council aims to implement changes next April.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/ask for further information on the consultation.