Cornwall Council appears not to have learned the lessons of the past year when it comes to car park budgets - and it was doing so well.
As I've blogged before, the current year's budget made a hugely over-optimistic assessment of the amount that could be earned from car parks. It was so over-expectant that halfway through the year the Cabinet agreed to cut the income expectation by £2.5 million.
When it comes to next year's budget, the initial signs looked quite good. The Council agreed to freeze the income requirement and there were local meetings around Cornwall to look at the hour by hour rates in each car park. As a result, the proposal was to keep the first hour rate in Launceston of 50p, to cut the 2 hour rate from £1.70 to £1.50 and to increase the 3 hour rate to £3 to compensate. We also secured an agreement to reintroduce all day parking in at least one town centre car park.
So far, so good.
But on Monday the Cabinet decided that they wanted an additional 3% income from car parks. They haven't learned and appear still to be led by bean counters who think that the authority can squeeze as much money as it wants from those using local shops and businesses.
The Cabinet wants to keep the first hour rate the same but will increase the two and three hour rates by more than 3% to compensate. As a result my guess is that we will see sky high parking rates which deter people coming to shop in our town centres and so the council will yet again fail to meet their budget target.