Car parking and permit charges set for discussion

Senior councillors are set to discuss a review of car parking and fees for residential parking permits next week (Wednesday 19 June 2013).

Having previously discussed the overall car parking strategy, members of the council’s executive board are being asked to approve; charges for on street parking in the evenings and on Sundays, a £5 tariff at the council’s Woodhouse Lane car park for arena events and opening the refurbished facility 24 hours a day.

In a separate report, councillors are being asked to approve initial proposals for charges for residential parking permits. These would be consulted on before final recommendations are brought back to executive board.

Leeds is one of a few remaining core cities which doesn’t yet charge for parking in the evenings or on Sundays and that still offers free residential parking permits.

The report on parking charges proposes a flat rate of £2 from 6pm until 10pm seven days a week. From 10am to 6pm on Sundays, parking for up to four hours would cost £1 while over four hours would cost £4.

The report on residential parking permits proposes to start a consultation on suggested charges which are: £50 per year for the first permit and £50 for additional permits. It is suggested that a flexible approach is taken to visitors permits to accommodate different needs with an annual visitor permit costing £50 and £10 for a pack of 10 day tickets.

If approved by executive board, a series of focus groups will discuss the initial proposals and around 16,000 existing permit holders in 98 residential parking zones will be contacted. Following the consultation, where all views will be considered, a decision will be made as to whether the proposals are taken forward or not.

The review of charging for both services was agreed in the 2013/14 budget as a measure to help the council find ways to save £54.9million.

46% of people who took part in the YouChoose budget setting challenge earlier this year said they’d increase car parking charges to help the council balance its books.

Both reports that acknowledge that charging for previously free services isn’t popular but that not introducing these charges could mean charging for other council services that may prove even more contentious.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“We certainly don’t underestimate the part that parking has to play in the economy of our vibrant city centre, however we’ve reached a financial point where we have to do things differently.

“The previous review of the parking strategy highlighted the complex need to provide a good turnover of spaces balanced against the need to keep the economy moving and encouraging people to make the most of public transport.

“We also need to take into account the influx of visitors that recent and upcoming developments will bring to the city centre. Making Woodhouse Lane a 24 hour car park and competitive event pricing is the next natural step in supporting the first direct arena for example.

“If agreed, the pricing structure recommended for on street parking is extremely modest and would provide a very competitive offer for a small proportion of the number of spaces we control compared to the thousands offered by private companies.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, said:

“As a council we are currently facing unprecedented financial constraints on our budget, and as such are having to explore all options in which to meet this challenge.

“Residents parking is one avenue that we wish to explore through a public consultation, because while we still need to address those areas where residents tell us they are having problems parking, there is currently a significant cost to implementing and maintaining residential parking zones.

“By undertaking a consultation if agreed by the executive board, we will be able to hear the views of those residents who may be affected, and use this information when deciding in the future whether or not to proceed with any proposals.”

The charges for extended on street parking would be implemented later this year. A report on charges for residential parking permits will go back to executive board later this year.

Blue Badge holders would still be able to park for free in residential parking zones and at council parking facilities.

The charges proposed for evenings and Sundays are below that of other commercial providers and would apply to 2,400 on-street council-controlled parking spaces.

Results of the city centre car parking consultation carried out in late 2012 and early 2013 revealed that of those who responded, 65% didn’t favour the introduction of evening or Sunday car parking charges. Those that did were in favour of flat rate charges.

A previous review of car parking identified over 18,800 parking spaces available in the city centre, with the council controlling 29% of these. The review also examined the impact of future developments on car parking provision as well as occupancy trends, pricing and income generated by parking charges.

It’s anticipated that population growth alongside new city centre developments will result in more people travelling to and from the city centre. The council’s car parking policy and charging for that parking has a key role to play in the transport strategy so increased travel can be accommodated in more sustainable ways.

Residential parking zones are introduced at the request of local people who are experiencing access or parking issues when there is an influx of additional people parking in that area.

Currently, free permits for residents and their visitors are issued for three years to give people priority to park near their home. It costs around £250 per space to put residential parking zones in place. Any charges introduced would help cover costs of introducing and maintaining residential parking zones.

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577
e-mail: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk