Cabinet members at Thanet council have agreed the details for the authority’s 2023/24 budget which will go for full council approval in February – but concern is brewing over a proposed 10% increase in parking charges.
There was cross party approval for measures including using £594,000 New Homes Bonus for the provision of temporary accommodation for homeless residents and £800,000 investment in council corporate properties as well as money to employ more CCTV staff and Coastal Enforcement wardens and a 100% council tax premium on empty second homes from April 2024.
However, Thanet Labour Party councillors said they will not support the proposed 10% rise in off-street parking charges, saying the council should delay any changes until an upcoming parking review has been completed.
Cllr David Saunders, who is the Cabinet member for finance, said fees and charges were an important part of making sure the council budget is balanced.
A full parking review is due to be carried by April 2024, but in the meantime current parking charges would be increased by 10% or alternatively a comparable increase at each location, so that is rounded to the nearest 10p.
This is expected to increase budget contribution for off street parking by £95k. On-street parking income is ring-fenced and cannot be used for general budget funding.
The 10% increase proposed across the majority of council fees and charged is expected to bring in an additional £610,000 although the council’s finance officer said the rise in parking charges was to keep it in line with inflation rather than to provide extra income.
The council budget includes rising costs due to inflation pressures but also increases from £17.902m for this financial year (2022/23) up to £21.412m for 2023/24, which represents a £3.510m or 19.6% increase in spending on services.
Conservative Cabinet member for finance, Cllr David Saunders, said: “Due to the high inflation environment we are currently operating in, the council has seen substantial increases in its own running costs and the costs of the services it provides for residents.
“The council services are funded by a broad range of income streams with fees and charges being just one of those means of financing.”
He said reduced funding from council tax and government grants mean: “Locally generated sources of income such as fees and charges are even more important than ever.”
Labour says that pushing up parking charges is hard to justify given the state of some of the district’s most used car parks, especially the multi-storeys in Ramsgate’s Leopold Street and Margate’s Mill Lane.
Shadow finance member Cllr Rob Yates, said: “Labour made clear at the fees and charges working group that we wanted additional support for our residents when it came to parking. This recommendation was not one that was taken forward.
“We do not believe it is reasonable that the hardworking residents of Thanet should bear a whopping 10% increase in parking charges during the worst cost-of-living crisis in memory.
“With free parking available at Westwood Cross, this is a threat to our high streets and the fortunes of local businesses, while a Thanet resident with an annual car-park season ticket will need to find £64 more than last year in order to go about their daily life.
“Royal Harbour car park in Ramsgate is still without any lifts and there seems to be no plan to get them fixed. Has the cost of car parks to the council increased by 10%? We don’t think it has.
“The fees and charges report states that a full parking review is to be carried out by April 2024 and that changes will come into effect then.
“Surely it is better to wait for the outcome of the review rather than increase costs so dramatically for our residents during a cost of living crisis before the review is even complete?”
Cllr Saunders said he would like to see preferential treatment for residents but if there were such recommendations from the parking review it could still take “the whole of 2024” for them to be implemented because a digital system would need to be set up.
Cllr Tricia Austin (Green) said temporary measures, such as coach parking facilities and use of Ramsgate port for storage and parking, should be considered as a way of raising income.
Fellow Green Party member Cllr Mike Garner also asked for reconsideration of a key workers parking permit scheme, possibly via a pilot project with Thanet care agencies.
Thanet Labour leader Rick Everitt said there were also concerns over increasing staff in ‘back office posts.’
He added: “We are concerned that staffing increases being proposed are mostly back-office posts and therefore won’t tackle issues that residents repeatedly tell us matter to them, like dirty streets, rundown car parks and public toilets that aren’t fit for purpose.”
Cllr Everitt said he would like to talk to members from all parties to find a way to remove the parking charge hike to avoid the need for “a performance” at full council but said there would be ‘a performance’ if necessary.
Council leader Ash Ashbee said she assumed that implied there could be an attempt to ‘vote down’ the budget and said although there was a willingness to listen to alternatives taking money away in one area would mean finding it from another source.
Thanet council’s finance officer said savings of around £300,000 would need to be made on other services in order to freeze the parking fees rise.
The draft budget and proposed fees and charges are due to be considered by the council’s overview and scrutiny panel next week and go to full council on February 9.
I work in London a lot and I can park in Notting Hill all day for less then parking charges in Cecil sq Margate. Where does thus council get its ideas from.
Parking in Kensington & Chelsea is also cheaper. TDC charges luxury prices for minimal services.
And yet most of us can’t even park near our houses due to cars parking in unrestricted areas due to extortionate charges forcing people to park in unrestricted streets. The more you put the price up the more we all suffer. Central harbour Ramsgate ward is crammed with staff parking who work at Chatham School and from housing developments that come without parking.
Introduce a CPZ to all Thanet towns central areas, it is the only sensible solution. Why isn’t there some more resident based thinking?
Thanet council and Kent county council are ridiculous.
We are in a cost of living crisis and they are hell bent on making people pay out more money .
How about they give something back instead of take take take .
Mind you they don’t worry as most likely they earn double or triple an average salary .
If it’s costing you more, it’s costing the Councils more. If the Councils cut back, you would lose already stretched service standards. Blame Central Government.
Actually I blame TDC. Don’t forget they recently approved payments of almost £1m to pay off their useless senior managers who couldn’t act like adults and work with each other.
How far would that money have gone ?
Well done TDC. Well done for approving a 19.6% increase in council spending when inflation is running at half of that.
This is a budget for a time when the council and its residents have money to spare. More back office jobs. No extra resource on street cleaning. It’s a total joke.
I agree. TDC is responsible, but seemingly unaccountable, for its lack of competence.
Budgets may he central, but even awash with cash, it would be no guarantee of competence. £1m going on staffing matters is absolutely horrific. And not normal, even in a sector renowned for luxury exits.
Why do people say it is a ‘total joke’, when clearly it is not funny? Why is local govt funding so reliant on local revenue sources? Because since 2010 Central Govt has removed all the revenue support grant, which meant that well off communities carried on unaffected, because their RSG was minimal, and the poorer communities like Thanet were left with a massive shortfall.
I am not sure where the 19.6% increase in spending is coming from, but sometimes figures are distorted because of one off payments.
I agree with Rick E that back office staff increases are not the way to go.Thanet residents have said for years that street cleaning and better toilet provision is what they were looking for.
KCC is putting up its precept because adult social care is taking a larger percentage of the budget.Blame Granny and Grandad if your potholes are not fixed, or your bus service is cut, or your library is closed. As a society we are getting older, sicker and increasingly frail.We may be living longer but it adds to the budget.
As for parking.Why would you drive in London? In any case even if your chariot is ULEZ compliant, it will not beat the CAZ, nor will it be able to be used in an LTN.Get out of your damn car, and walk, cycle or catch the bus. Cars are really inefficient ways of travel in urban areas.TFL has half decent bus, tube and train services,not like Kent.Use them or lose them.
We did have the story a week or so back where it was revealed the commercial propert department had basically done nothing for a number of years, so a considerable sum that should have beeen realised has/will not be. Of cpurse being a council no one will be held to account and instead the local residents either have to pay more or have reduced services.
The endless failings and money wasted all lie at TDCs feet over the years, what has that got to do with central government?
How much has the loading jetty farce at ramsgate cost us so far and how much more before we stop paying for lorries to move aggregate?
6 million lost for the animal export crusade. Bailing out leaseholders until such time as they sell in royal crescent because of decades of property mismanagement. How much has been thrown into Dreamland only for the town to now have next to no control at all over its future. Leisure force costs, East Kent Housing pantomime. ? Just a few that spring to mind
Thanet is becoming a very expensive place to live. Big city prices on local minimum wages for most of us.
I’ve got a brilliant idea.
Double the parking fees, and use the revenues raised to reduce the bus fares and increase their frequency.
This will have the double effect of making the polluter pay, whilst at the same time facilitating the use of public transport, thus freeing up the roads for those who really need them.
And then even more people will go to Westwood Cross where the parking is free.
Got any other “brilliant” ideas?
Like it or not, cars are here to stay.
Tragically, that is so. Cars will be with us for at least a score of years to come.
All the more reason that drivers should pay for the privilege of polluting the planet and wrecking our towns.
Parking is not “free” at out of town shopping centres. Supermarket proprietors are not philanthropists, neither are the shareholders.
But I take your point. Far better would be to tax fuel, so those who drive more or drive bigger vehicles pay more. Then use this additional revenue to subsidize an effective and cheap public transport system, to encourage people out of their cars.
Perhaps spend some money on decent cycle provision, too: something better than a white line that peters out just where the road gets hazardous.
Much as I used to enjoy cycling everywhere (and still do to a lesser extent), the best cycle lanes in the country still wouldn’t get many people out of their cars and onto bikes. It has only gained popularity in big cities like London because it has become so congested. There aren’t many place in Thanet (except when there are roadworks or movies beig made) where people are delayed due to traffic queues for more than a few minutes at a time.
There is also the problem of what to do with a bike. I wouldn’t leave my bike chained to a lamp post in Northdown Road or central Ramsgate while I went shopping.
The high streets are already crippled and any increase will not reduce car use. Plenty of savvy businesses have free parking.
It’ll be the high streets and small traders that are crippled.
The way to deal with car pollution is the government take electric cars seriously and implement the infrastructure to support it.
Personal cars will never be replaced by a good bus service ever. The bus was late and crowded so we all found a different way. Too late to turn back.
Please TDC, do NOT increase the parking!! I live in central Ramsgate in a street full of double yellow lines and all neighbouring areas paid with meters or the public car park. I have been paying close to £500 a year so that I can park in the near vicinity of my home (7+ years) and business premises (aka the public car park). There is no residence permit for me. Not only will the increase impact me and my kids (I have a car to do school runs mostly as it would take too long on foot to get back in time for work), it will affect my business as the current prices already act as a deterrent for those on tighter budgets.
Help us all thrive rsther than keep chipping away, then there will be less crime and associated costs to pay for.
It would also help if TDC did not approve any new buildings if there are not sufficient parking spaces for the size of the property – be it residential, commercial of a care home. Virtually every report I read on this site has insufficient parking for the proposed development. So they all end up parking on side streets too.
councils make so much money by issuing parking penalty notices although some are rather spurious.
Using the parking ringo app ensures the period of parking is always paid for, so no problems with being late back to your motor and the possibility of getting a pcn.
Ringo users deny councils of income from penalty charge notices, so a significant drop in easy parking revenue.
Dear tdc,Motorists are not cash cows. Why make it so expensive to shop in thanet. The high streets need customers.
TDC senior manager 1 – “High streets are deserted, shops are closing down, which in turn has knock on effects on the towns and income generation for the council, it’s an issue we need to tackle, especially with cost of living crisis”
TDC senior manager 2 – “Hmmm…. Yes… how about we increase parking fees”
TDC senior manager 1 – “Nailed it, high five”
Management at Westwood will be delighted.
Does Andrew work for TDC?
How many people pay to park in Barnes Carpark, they don’t need to at this time of year, the sign saying so is hidden at the far end furthest away from the slope as possible.
Has any official with influence from tdc actually seen the disrepair and dirt of the multi storey car park in Leopold street.
The lifts have been out of action Boarded up out for such a longtime now, not that appealing for tourists,shoppers,workers, hotel guests and everyone else.
New lifts are planned,Final cost £400K+ but they will soon be out of action again if security is not improved.
Now the pay machines have been playing up, were doomed
This car park is appalling. How TDC have the gall to actually charge people for parking here is beyond belief.
Lifts boarded up, graffiti everywhere, stinks of urine in all the stairways.
It’s a total disgrace.
Do TDC staff & councillors still get free parking in the multi-storey car park at mill lane ? If you don’t have to pay for parking increasing it by 10% could be seen as an easy win.