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Calls to review parking permits across Cornwall

Calls to review parking permits across Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 12:43pm 15th May 2019. (Updated at 5:11pm 15th May 2019)

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Cornwall councillors have called for a review of increases and changes to residents’ parking permits with one claiming they are "an extra tax on working people".

There are residents’ parking permit schemes run by the council in Truro, Launceston, Kingsand, Cawsand and Portwrinkle.

In April the council introduced a new scheme of charges which mean that the first parking permit for a household costs £50 and a second is £75.

The change was introduced to harmonise the charges which residents pay for permits so that they can park near their homes.

However the charges meant that in some areas such as Truro charges increased 100% from £25 to £50 overnight.

At a meeting of the council’s economic growth and development overview and scrutiny committee today councillors called for the system to be reviewed.

The committee heard that as well as harmonising the charges the council was also aiming to ensure that the parking permits scheme is cost neutral.

Officers revealed that last year the scheme generated income of £62,000 but cost £112,000 to implement which meant that taxpayers were subsidising the scheme to the tune of £50,000 a year.

They said that it was hoped that the new charges would mean that the budget would be balanced in future.

“When we did this originally there were different terms, different bands and different rates.

"The taxpayer was subsidising parking for residents in Truro and that didn’t seem fair.

"We were asked to come back with a scheme that was cost neutral and it came out as £50 and £75 for a second vehicle."

Geoff Brown, Cabinet member for transport

The council commissioned consultation with residents affected and received responses from around 13% of people.

Cllr Brown said that this indicated that "87% of the people in residential areas either couldn’t care less or were happy with how we have harmonised it".

However Truro councillor Rob Nolan queried why second permits cost more and called for all permits to be set at a flat rate of £50.

A report from councillors suggested that some residents had been buying permits and then selling them on to commuters – to combat that permits are now specific to a vehicle and have registration numbers on them.

Cllr Nolan also called for that practice to be scrapped saying that it was too limiting and caused problems for people who used additional permits for visitors or if they had to use a permit for a hire or courtesy car.

Launceston councillor Jade Farrington questioned the council’s definition of a household and said that by restricting each household to one permit at £50 disadvantaged people who live in shared properties.

She also added: "If you work anywhere outside the centre of Launceston you need a car. It is an extra tax on working people.

"This is not going to discourage people from driving it is just going to increase the cost for people who work."

But committee member Tim Dwelly said that there should be no changes to the scheme and added: "96p a week is not much. It is not deadly expensive and on balance it should be the same across Cornwall."

Cllr Brown responded to Cllr Nolan’s suggestion of making all permits one price saying that it would not achieve the aim of making the service cost neutral.

However he admitted that the council would not know the final income generated or cost of administering the scheme until they knew what the take up has been.

He said: "We are subsidising it considerably now but there is no intention to make this a cash cow. There is no intention next year to hike the charges again.

"We are not intending to make money out of this scheme.

"We will be reviewing the take up. If when we do this the take up is significantly better than anticipated and we make a profit I give a commitment now that next year we will look to reduce the charges to reflect that."

Cllr Nolan called on the committee to agree that the council should consider removing the requirement to have registration numbers on permits and for all permits to cost £50. But when put to the vote the proposals were lost.

The committee did agree that the Cabinet member and service director should note the comments made by councillors, review them and bring back a report in response. That was agreed with just Cllr Farrington voting against.

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