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Parking permit plans with 800 objections to start next month
CONTROVERSIAL new parking permit charges will be rolled out next month in Southampton – despite more than 800 objections being made against the proposals.
The £30 first residents’ permits, which will see residents in 13 areas of the city paying to park outside their homes, will be introduced on November 1.
Labour civic bosses have faced renewed calls to scrap the scheme after 828 objections and letters of concern were received by the city council.
But they say the scheme will be implemented as they cannot afford to run permit zones without charges – although they have already pledged to review all of the city’s zones next year.
That could result in permits being scrapped altogether in some areas of the city, just months after the charges are introduced.
The 13 zones all had parking permits introduced to deal with parking issues unique to their area.
Until now the first residents’ permit has been free, but they are set to cost £30 per year from next month, while three-month temporary residents’ permits will cost £15.
Among the concerns voiced through the council’s consultation were fears that the permits were being used as a tax by the council, that council tax and other levies should pay for the schemes, and that the permit charges would have an unfair impact on lower income households.
Concerns were also raised about the permit zones not being effectively enforced, while many claimed it was not right for the council to force people to pay to park outside their homes.
Opposition councillors have called for the scheme to be scrapped, with Tory group deputy leader Jeremy Moulton saying: “The council should rethink the whole scheme in light of the amount of people who have objected.
“I’m disappointed there was no willingness to change anything about the scheme in light of the consultation. It seems that they have just ticked a box legally by doing it but aren’t going to change anything as a result.”
Administer-ing the 13 permit zones currently costs the council £260,000 each year, but brings in only £74,000.
The council believes the new regime will bring in £204,000, but that will still leave the council with a shortfall of £56,000 each year.
However, Cllr Moulton believes the cost of operating permit schemes should be met by the council’s overall on-street parking budget, which currently has a surplus of £319,000.
But city council leader Simon Letts has pledged that residents will have the final say on whether permit zones remain in their area in a review which will take place early next year.
He said: “We are going to implement the changes but we are going to give people an option, that if they don’t want the permit schemes to remain in their area, then they may return to being a free-for-all.
“We can no longer afford to subsidise this service. If people want us to continue running permit zones we will charge for permits, and if they want to return to it being a free-for-all then they won’t pay. But they will not be able to have a permit and not pay for it.”
He added that the council was likely to enter into negotiations with Southampton General Hospital and the University of Southampton about the organisations making financial contributions to schemes in their areas.
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