Thursday, 17 May 2012

Parking income in Launceston has fallen 10% under Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council is getting ten percent less from pay and display car parks in Launceston than was the situation they inherited from the former North Cornwall District Council. This is despite (or, more likely, because of) year on year overall price rises.

When Cornwall Council took over responsibility for parking in April 2009, the total income from the four pay and display car parks in the town was £183,318 a year.

In the year 2011/12, Cornwall Council took £165,307.36 - a drop of more than £18,000 or around 10%. In only one car park, the Cattle Market, is the council getting more money now than it was then.*

Given the fact that prices have risen consistently for all except the first hour, it appears that the total number of cars parking in our town (and therefore the number of visitors using shops and businesses) has dropped very dramatically.

Surely it is time for Cornwall Council to start thinking less about its cash income (a strategy which has catastrophically failed in any case) and start to think holistically about the good of our town. With the localisation of business rates, Cornwall Council will have increased interest in making sure that local shops and businesses don't close. Higher parking charges and lower footfall will therefore be biting the hand that feeds them.

One option would be for town and parish councils to take over responsibility for car parks from Cornwall Council. But Truro is insisting that ridiculous income targets must be maintained, even though they have never been achieved across Cornwall and only in a few places with individual car parks. At today's meeting, the head of parking said that such devolution is 'a non-runner' under the current circumstances.

Perhaps one of the reasons why Launceston is getting such a poor deal with its parking charges is the lack of representation on the Parking Panel. Since February 2011 there have been detailed discussions on two massive parking price rises. The only Launceston area councillor on the parking panel is Conservative Phil Parsons who represents Altarnun. Cllr Parsons did not attend a single one of the parking panel meetings during that time and today's meeting was the first he has attended since February 2011.

But even where sensible arguments are put forward at the Parking Panel, the portfolio holder, Cllr Graeme Hicks, is not around the hear them. Cllr Hicks has not attended a single meeting of the Parking Panel for the last 15 months.

* This headline figure does mask the fact that the situation in 2011/12 is better than the previous year when the overall take was just £138,878.36. 

No comments: