Parking charges in Calderdale are set to be reviewed before Christmas, against a financial backdrop likely to put the emphasis on increases.
The issue was considered by Calderdale Council’s Place Scrutiny Board ahead of a report with Cabinet set to discuss a parking review in November – parking is reviewed every two years and the latest appraisal is now due.
Members were asked to give their views on the topic, which they know is contentious, in the knowledge that parking is expected to bring the council savings of £160,000 in 2018-19 and £340,000 in 2019-20.
An officers’ report to councillors said the re-tendered Parking Enforcement contract due to start in November will deliver some savings over the lifetime of the contract.
It is also unlikely to see a reduction in the number of traffic wardens.
“Service budgets will be continue to be carefully managed and the use of new technology will continue to be carefully managed and the use of new technology will continue to be explored to drive down costs and improve customer experience.
“There are no further opportunities to reduce ‘back office’ staffing without potentially compromising operational efficiency, including machine availability and revenue collection,” says the report.
Therefore, it says, the vast majority of savings will need to be delivered through the review of parking and parking charges.
The main options will be reviewing existing tariffs, introducing new on-street or off-street charges, reviewing charging hours including considering evening or Sunday charges, reviewing contract permits and reviewing residents’ permits.
Although they will have to consider charging options, councillors will have to balance this with the impact on communities where charging occurs.
Councillors made the point that not every part of Calderdale is the same with even neighbouring communities not having the same requirements or problems.
Coun Regan Dickenson (Con, Rastrick) said savings anticipated might not be forthcoming if they affected footfall, reducing parking income and also money spent in local shops, Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) asked a question about Saturday and Sunday charging in Hebden Bridge and Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) raised the issue of technology with many city systems allowing people to pay by phone.
Board chairman Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) said charging and parking provision had to take into account concerns raised by business people such as Roger Harvey, of Halifax department store Harveys, bearing in mind the contribution retail made to Calderdale’s economy, while appreciating savings had to be made.
For example, the council recently removed charges from some Elland car parks to address issues it had been left struggling after it lost its last bank branch office, to encourage shoppers to visit.
Calderdale Cabinet member for Regeneration and Economic Development Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said the savings required set the backdrop options took into account.
“We have to find £340,000 – it shows the difficulty here. If we can find another way to do it, we would welcome it,” he said.
Coun Lynn said, for example, extending evening hours had been looked at before and ruled out. And referring to her earlier question said: “I mentioned Saturday and Sunday charging in Hebden Bridge because it gets a lot of tourists on a Sunday. Do you pay to park in Halifax on Sundays? Given the number of visits is that going to be considered?”
Coun Leigh said personally he would like to see some actual proposals about things like charging on Sunday so councillors could assess them.
“We need to strike a balance. Things have changed in this country on Sundays from 30 years ago. We do a lot of shopping while we go to the Piece Hall. I would like to see some proposals we can talk about,” he said.
Officers said views expressed would be taken into account when the report to Cabinet was prepared.
Coun Leigh said: “It’s a very contentious issue, we know that. Can you work up these proposals as soon as you can find the time?”