Residents’ parking permits are set to rise by 200% as Kirklees Council battles to balance its books.
As part of a package of measures to raise revenue and slash £47 million from its budget by February, the council has said it will raise all fees and charges by at least the rate of inflation.
Car parking charges are being increased for the first time since 2009 – with the increase back-dated – and now residents who rely on parking permits at home face a big rise.
In August this year, the council revealed plans to increase residential parking permit charges.
Currently, residential parking permits are provided for a one-off fee of £15, while ‘open visitor’ permits are provided free of charge. There’s no set fee for resident parking permits, so each council sets its own rate, and this can vary by area.
Under the new plans, the council will introduce an ‘administration charge’ of £50 annually for all types of parking permits.
In addition, the council had offered free permits for electric vehicles which allowed free parking in all pay and display areas but already a decision has been taken to apply an annual charge of £150.
The decision to apply annual charges for residential and electric vehicle permits was taken by one of the council’s strategic directors in October this year, with approval from a Cabinet member.
Following this decision to go ahead, the council has issued letters to residents to notify them about the proposed changes and to invite them to provide feedback before the scheme is implemented.
Now Liberal Democrat councillors in Lindley have launched a petition against plans to increase permit parking charges.
Clr Cahal Burke said a number of residents had contacted him and his colleague Clr Anthony Smith to express concern about the proposals. The councillors have launched a campaign to oppose increased charges for parking permits.
In 2013, Clr Burke organised a campaign to oppose the council’s plans to introduce a £30 charge for parking permits for residents living around Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, arguing that it was not right for the council to ask these residents to pay for permits without which they would find it almost impossible to park near their homes for the majority of the time.
He also led a campaign a few years earlier, in 2011, when the council was also considering bringing in a charge for residents’ parking permits.
Currently, around 5,200 people across Kirklees have a residents’ parking permit and Clr Burke has said that hundreds of residents who live on roads around Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, are permit holders and will be affected.
He said: “We have launched a petition, as we feel that the increase is unfair and punishes residents who are already facing huge pressures in the cost-of-living crisis.
“We shouldn’t be forcing residents to pay more to park legitimately outside their own homes. Furthermore, a permit does not even guarantee a parking space. The hike will effectively victimise people based on where they happen to live.
“We feel that it’s an outrageous hike and it is not fair and will hit our residents hard. The council should reflect on concerns raised by our residents and residents across the district. They need to think about the impact this will have, especially in the current economic climate.
“Furthermore, introducing a charge for visitor permits will have a particularly negative impact on the elderly, disabled and ill, as it could encourage social isolation and increase the risk of injury and death. It would also make the jobs of social care providers, carers and family members much harder.
“I understand that the council is experiencing huge financial pressures but are there not other areas of enforcement where they could focus their attention, such as illegal fly-tipping, littering and car owners who violate permit parking rules and park illegally?
“I am very concerned about how this decision was taken. It should have been a matter for debate at full council.”
His ward colleague, Clr Anthony Smith, said: “Currently, if a household has two vehicles, they would be expected to pay £30 in total. However, under the new plans, they would need to pay £100 in total annually, plus £50 for a visitor pass. Over five years, this would be £750. How can this be justified?
“Many residents have already contacted us to express their concern and there seems to be a lot of uncertainty and a lack of transparency.
“Recently, residents received letters from the council to advise them about the changes and to encourage them to share their views, but is the council genuinely consulting or is it a tick-box engagement exercise?
“Some of our residents also want to know what the annual administrative charge covers. The council has informed them about plans to implement virtual permits in future but how will this work for visitor permits, for instance?
“If residents are expected to pay more, does this mean that there will be better enforcement and more regular patrols in permit parking areas or will the money simply be used to plug the council’s financial gap?
“Under the new plans, permits will be issued annually but some residents are concerned that this will result in more bureaucracy.”
Lindley Liberal Democrat councillors’ petition against permit parking charge increases can be found at https://bit.ly/Permit23