To consider the head of housing and environment’s report.
Cabinet considered the head of housing and environment’s report on a review of car park fees and charges.
The Cabinet member for housing and environment highlighted the following options for Cabinet’s consideration:
A. Increase all fees (for up to two hours and above) by 20p (or 40p)
B. Introduce flat fee of 60p for up to two hours (to replace the current free parking)
C. Reduce free parking from two hours to one hour and introduce a charge of £1.50 for up to two hours and £2.00 for up to 3 hours.
D. Increase the cost of parking permits by ten per cent
E. Formalise the parking for one coach and market traders in Hales Meadow car park, Abingdon. Remove the commercial vehicle parking in Rye Farm car park, Abingdon and use the area to create ‘overflow’ parking for smaller vehicles.
F. Removing residential permits to bring them in line with parking permits
G. Making the Civic car park, Abingdon, short stay only with a maximum stay of three hours at £1.50 for up to three hours (or £1.70/£1.90 if option A agreed for increase of all fees)
H. Charging points for electric vehicles
I. Other considerations – increasing excess charge notices by £10
The report recommended that all other aspects of the fees and charges such as the charging periods, free parking for disabled and motorbikes and free parking on Sunday (except Rye Farm, Hales Meadow and Abbey Meadow), remained the same.
The Climate Emergency Advisory Committee had considered a number of options for reviewing car park fees and charges on 28 January 2020. The committee’s comments were set out in Table 1 of the report; it had supported options C, D, E, G, H and I.
Cabinet welcomed the committee’s feedback, as well as contributions from the public and two committee members. The suggestions made were welcomed. However, Cabinet considered that the council must protect local businesses and shops at this time, especially after months of lockdown under the Covid-19 pandemic. Car park charges could be adjusted but radical changes must be avoided immediately. The suggestions made by the speakers were all relevant and could be captured and used to make changes in the future.
Cabinet noted that to do nothing was not sustainable as the car parks service was running at a loss. The council was allowed to break-even but not make a profit. Cabinet reviewed the options and concluded that it was important to retain two hours free parking at this time but raise the fees beyond two-hour stays by 40 pence. Parking permit prices should increase and the subsidy for residents’ permits should be phased out. The report set out some changes that would be subject to the regulatory consultation on a draft car park order, others could be implemented immediately. The outcome of the formal consultation would be reported back to Cabinet later in the year.
Cabinet also asked for a review of the car park policy.
(a) amend the car parking fees as follows:
(i) Increase all car parking fees for stays beyond two hours by 40p (option A);
(ii) Retain two hours free parking (thereby rejecting options B and C);
(iii) Increase the cost of parking permits by ten per cent (option D);
(iv) Formalise the parking for one coach and market traders in Hales Meadow car park, Abingdon. Remove the commercial vehicle parking in Rye Farm car park, Abingdon and use the area to create ‘overflow’ parking for smaller vehicles (option E);
(v) Phased removal of the discount on residential permits to bring them in line with parking permits, phased over four years, and commencing no later than 1 December 2020. Stop selling new residential permits from 1 October 2020 (option F);
(vi) Retain the current parking arrangements at the Civic car park in Abingdon (thereby rejecting option G);
(vii) Allow enforcement of electric vehicle charging points by amending the car park order (option H);
(viii) Retain the fee for early payment of Excess Charge Notices at £50 (option I);
(ix) Retain all other aspects of the fees and charges such as the charging periods, free parking for the display of a disabled badge and motorbikes, and free parking on Sundays (except Rye Farm, Hales Meadow and Abbey Meadow car parks in Abingdon) (option I);
(b) authorise the head of legal and democratic services to prepare and publish a draft order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to reflect the agreed changes where required;
(c) allow the head of housing and environment to oversee necessary consultations in accordance with the requirements of the Act and the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996, and note that responses will be reported back to Cabinet after the end of the consultation period; and
(d) undertake a review of car parking policy.