Thursday, 14 January 2010

Car Park Spats

A decision to drastically increase local car park charges has come under heavy criticism.

According to the unsigned Reading Post article council officers made the decision in consultation with Labour deputy leader Cllr Tony Page, who argued that improvements to car park facilities need to be paid for somehow, despite denying there were no plans to introduce new charges last year.

The move by local Labour politicians comes in stark contrast to recent advice by national Labour figures on car parking at NHS hospitals when minister Andy Burnham MP said a "fairer, more consistent approach" is required.

Conservative transport spokesperson Cllr Richard Willis says he was 'horrified' that Labour had tried to sneak through a 'massive' increase by 'stealth'.

Meanwhile LibDems have utilised 'call-in' powers under the 'No Overall Control' system to force the council leadership to justify the decision or reconsider.

Transport spokesperson Cllr Ricky Duveen says he was outraged by the move, explaining, "There has been no consultation with local councillors, no notice, just a decision announced."

But Cllr Willis tetchily responded in an update by citing unnamed officials who have 'confirmed' tory claims for credit, although Reading List understands the 'call in' was effectively invoked by both sides separately.

Conservatives are pleased that some long-stay charges are to be reduced, but are angry that some previously free sites will have charges levied for the first time. Clearly they think everything should be paid for directly from council tax revenues.

In an almost opposite position LibDems responded to residents complaints about long stay parking at the Recreation Rd car park by agreeing to introduce charges, which would enable short stays to remain free while paying for recent revamps.

Oranjepan says:
Who makes the decisions shows who is in charge. Who is consulted shows in whose interests the decision is made. Comparing the reasons given now to those they gave previously shows how good they are at doing their job.


  1. Car parks have had an interesting ride for the last 12 months. When the VAT rate dropped by two and a half percentage points that money went straight into their bottom line because no car parks reduced their parking charges.

    Now, in January, the VAT rate has come back. That windfall profit is over, and they now wish to retain the money (and more) in their businesses, so they increase their charges.

    Now me, I think there ought to be a windfall profit tax on car parks to recover those windfall profits from them.

  2. That's quite interesting Tim, but I have a question for you - would you direct any income from parking at transport spending (such as bus company subsidies, extra gritting etc), or do you think it should go into the general council kitty (to cover, say, shortfalls in pension contributions, cuts in council tax or better libraries and childrens services)?


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