AN UNPOPULAR plan to increase the amount people have to pay to park outside their homes across Warwickshire has been scrapped.
Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) Cabinet has voted to keep the annual cost of residential and visitor parking permits at £25 each.
Last year, the council proposed either raising the fee to a flat rate of £80 per permit – a massive 220 per cent hike – or charging £30 for a first permit and £50 for a second and third permit.
Plans to limit visitors’ permits to a maximum of 50 days a year, at a cost of £50, have also been abandoned.
But the council will go ahead with its plan to scrap paper permits and introduce a digital online system.
A report to the Cabinet showed the proposals had attracted strong criticism from residents, particularly ‘in light of a parking budget surplus’.
The council had told residents it needed to raise charges because the current rate had ‘not reflected the cost of running the permit scheme’.
But last October, The Observer revealed the council’s overall Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) scheme, which includes the permit scheme, generated a surplus in 2018-19 of just over £2million.
In a report to the Cabinet, WCC’s principal parking enforcement officer Jon Rollinson said the decision to maintain current prices had been made in response to concerns raised and the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “The option to increase permit prices is generally unwelcome, with a significant number of negative comments.
“Additionally, since the proposals were first put forward, the world has been struck by the coronavirus pandemic which has had significant economic effects on businesses and individuals alike.”
He said the switch to a digital online permit system was broadly supported by the public – “both in terms of using it to manage their own permit applications and to control the misuse of visitors permits”.
Addressing concerns from residents who had no access to the internet, he said a phone and postal service would be introduced to manage ‘the small number of permit holders to whom this applies’.
A public consultation will be launched on the digital system, which is scheduled to be introduced in April.
The plan to limit visitor parking to a maximum of 1,200 hours per year was abandoned due to “concerns about fairness and the impact on the elderly and vulnerable”.
The council has set up a Cross-Party Working Group ‘tasked with identifying the basis for any future permit price rises’.
Mr Rollinson said in his report: “The group will consider any future permit price rise mechanisms in the context of greater benchmarking with other local authorities, inflationary pressures, and the costs of administering a resident’s permit scheme.
“Given there has been no price rise since 2016, the group will also consider the appropriate timescales for regular review of permit charges.”
The report added that the full cost of administering the permit scheme was close to £80 per permit, with other civil parking enforcement income effectively subsidising the scheme.