Plans to significantly increase on-street parking charges have been put out for public consultation as the county council seeks to push forward with the controversial proposals next April.
The authority had been expected to approve the changes earlier this year, but councillors put the plans on hold after some members complained that not enough consultation had taken place about them.
However the idea has not gone away and that consultation has now been launched, with people having until 22nd September to make their voices heard.
The changes include a rise in resident permit charges, with the council proposing either a flat £80 rate for up to three permits per household or a tiered pricing structure from £35-£80, with your third permit being the most expensive.
Residents would also be expected to pay for and renew their permits online as paper permits would no longer be issued.
A report accompanying the consultation explains that the current £25 of a residents’ permit does not cover the cost of enforcing the scheme, which the council claims is close to £80, while the move to virtual permitting is necessary as the existing paper-based system is obsolete.
The report says the council does not intend to collect more money than it actually costs to run the parking scheme.
It’s not just residents parking permits that are set to alter, visitor permits would also change with packages costing £25 for 600 hours of parking or £50 for 1200 hours being offered.
The council report claims this would crack down on permits being sold to provide all-day parking on street, as residents would have to register their visitors’ vehicles for the period of time that they wish to park and there would be a limit on the overall time that visitors could park for.
Old Town resident Marian Owen said: “I can’t imagine any other organisation attempting to put up the price of residents permits by so much, it’s ridiculous. There are a lot of retired people around here and they just won’t be able to afford it.
“I have never heard of anyone selling their visitor permit, they are like gold dust. Are we all to suffer because a few individuals have used their permit inappropriately? Maybe this is a problem elsewhere in the county, but not in Stratford.”
Fellow local resident John Lightbourne added: “£80 is extortionate. I cannot believe that simply processing parking permits warrants this level of charge. Why don’t you simply have a system online where each resident can log-in, apply for a permit and pay online then downloading a permit.
“The scheme is completely outdated in this this present era. The council must make some effort to demonstrate that they are performing efficiently in this modern age. Simply slapping extortionate costs on residents in order to operate outdated systems makes you look incredibly out of touch in these modern times, thus losing the respect of the people.”
Another proposal likely to hit a tourist town like Stratford hard, is a rise in the cost of guesthouse visitor permits from £2 per vehicle for 24 hours to £5. This system would also be managed online with guesthouse owners requires to register visitors’ vehicles before they arrive.
The current scratchcard permit scheme would be scrapped.
Guesthouse and Bed and Breakfast owners have previously expressed concerns about the changes to the Herald.
Cllr Ian Shenton, operations portfolio at Stratford District Council, said: “This appears to be a measured approach and consultation to raise the issue and get feedback on the subject of increases in permit charges before finalising any course of action.
“Increases are never welcome but, as they state in the consultation document, the County Council have not reviewed these for a number of years.
“I would encourage everyone to respond to the consultation document so that their views are heard.”
Giving his view on the proposals, Cllr Dominic Skinner (Lib Dem Stratford North), said: “It is a regret that resident parking permit charges are being forced to increase and how we reduce that impact on local people is extremely important I feel.
“I’ve met with a number of residents recently to discuss issues around parking and the amount of space available is a real concern. I feel the best way to limit the financial impact of the proposed cost increases is to offer a tiered permit cost, up to a maximum of three permits allowed per household. I also welcome the option to purchase and manage permits online, this will allow greater flexibility for residents, but still retain more traditional methods of purchasing a permit for those without internet access. This should also reduce the admin burden on council officers and residents.
“I think the most important changes that are proposed will be the moves to tackle parking permit misuse while offering a more flexible approach to visitors parking. There has been evidence that visitors permits have in the past been sold to provide all day on street parking for those who otherwise would not be entitled to it. This puts even more pressure on the parking provision around our residential areas which has often forced residents to park away from their homes
“While change can be difficult for some, this consultation gives resident the opportunity to shape council policy going forward.”
To have your view on the proposed parking fee changes visit https://ask.warwickshire.gov.uk/communities/on-street-parking-consultation/
Before the 22nd September.