‘Inflationary’ increase in car park charges as from next August, with consultation due regarding other proposed charge increases
At Tuesday’s (12 September) Cabinet session of Wiltshire County Council it was announced that ‘Inflationary’ increases will be applied to car parking charges as from August 2018.
All the other options raised (below - and detailed in recent m.n report) will go to public consultation, details of which will be announced later.
Option 2: Introduce Sunday and Bank / Public Holiday charging at all car parks
Option 3: Charge in all Wiltshire Council car parks
Option 4: Discontinue free event parking in November and December
Option 5: Base season ticket charges on the standard rate charges
Option 6: Harmonise residents’ parking permit charges
Option 7: Reduce the parking grace period to ten minutes
An Option 1 is missing, as this relates to the inflationary increase that will be going ahead irrespective of any consultation. “Option 1 to be put through at the earliest opportunity” stated Cllr Bridget Wayman, cabinet member for highways and transport.
“An inflationary increase, because it's on the existing Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) which covers charges for existing car parks, we don’t have to go through the same consultation process that we do when we are proposing a new TRO for the changes, the additional charges we are looking at in the options 2-7.” she added as clarification.
Councillors from across the county questioned whether a blanket inflationary increase would actually raise revenue at all, as some of the long term car parks were nearly empty even at peak times. “17% of capacity” was quoted for one car park in Corsham.
Cllr Ian Thorn asked if any modelling had been done regarding such price elasticity, “If car parks are already half empty are we going to see an increase in revenue?” he questioned.
Cllr Ruth Hopkinson (Corsham) questioned whether this increase was consistent with the Council’s recently passed business plan where regeneration of town centres was a central key objective, as “regeneration of town centres is having viable retail and leisure outlets and that is totally dependant on having adequate parking.” “I find that there is a bit of an anomaly there” she added.
This whole issue of parking charges is being linked to the cost of subsidising bus services. “Increase to enable to continue to support bus services and and cover increasing costs of parking management including business rates” stated Councillor Wayman, adding that in this year’s budget, £7.72m went to supporting bus services, gross income from parking stood at £7.66m and cost of parking management was £2.53m.
The gap between surplus from parking income/cost and bus subsidies stands at £2.59m, some of which will be bridged by the additional parking charges. “Proposals today won’t close that gap, but will help.” she added.
The consultation process on the additional parking charges will be announced soon and details of which will be presented here on marlborough.news.
However, we can all look forward to an ‘inflationary’ increase, whatever that might be, which will be imposed in just under one year’s time.