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Eastleigh Borough Council staff paid to park
COUNCIL staff will get thousands of pounds to help them pay parking charges – even if they do not use a car.
Eastleigh Borough Council staff will be paid up to £800 each next year because there are only six spaces at its new town centre offices.
Payments will continue for some workers for at least another seven years.
Councillors attending meetings will be able to claim back parking fees on expenses.
Anti-tax campaigners have called it “ridiculous” and said residents would find it hard to accept their council tax being spent on a “staff perk”.
Around 400 council employees, who up to now have had free parking at their current base in Leigh Road, face paying to park when they move to the new £12m headquarters, Eastleigh House, in Upper Market Street, next year.
The new headquarters will only have six parking spaces; three for pool cars and three disabled bays.
This means even the council’s new chief executive – who will replace current boss Bernie Topham, who recently revealed she is standing down – will have to pay for parking.
A consultation document seen by the Daily Echo gives details of the travel scheme.
The lowest-paid will get £800 for the next three years, dropping gradually to £267 by the year 2021/2022, a total of £4,801. It is unclear from the document whether the scheme will stop at that point.
The highest earners would receive an allowance of £533 in the first year, but this would drop to nothing by 2017/2018.
An annual parking permit in Eastleigh costs £1,067.
Staff who take the bus or train, cycle or walk will still be paid the allowance, but new staff will not be included.
Eleanor McGrath, campaign manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Moving the council offices might be a slight inconvenience for staff but it is ridiculous that this allowance is going to those that catch the bus or bike to work.
“Most local residents commuting pay for their own travel, so they will find it hard to swallow that their council tax is being used in this way.
“At a time when budgets are tight, the council should focus on saving taxpayers’ cash and delivering frontline services, not paying for staff perks."
A council spokesman said: “This time-limited scheme recognises the transitional costs for staff in this move. The scheme will be self-funding and
will not be a cost to borough residents over the life of the scheme.”
Leader of the council Keith House said that, for some, the scheme would be more convenient if they lived in Eastleigh or because of the building’s proximity to both rail and bus links.
Peter Terry, regional organiser for union Unison, argued that staff would still face paying out more money, because of the cost of a parking permit.
He said: “It is saying to continue working for us you can pay £200 for the privilege, that’s disgraceful.
These are staff having to do more, work harder because the demand is much greater on services and there’s fewer staff doing it. It shows a contempt for the employees.”
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