DERBYSHIRE DALES: Council rejects suggestions to charge for residents permit

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Derbyshire Dales District Council has rejected suggestions for a charge to be imposed on its residents’ parking permit.

Charging for the permit, which is sent out free annually to all 33,000 households in the Dales, is not among the recommendations as a new round of public consultation starts this week (21 May) on proposed car parking changes in the district.

But local people can have their say on whether a charge of £100 should be introduced for anyone wanting to buy a second permit or replace a lost permit.

The residents’ permit, which currently costs the District Council around £2.5-million a year in lost revenue, enables residents to park free of charge at every District Council car park before 11am and after 4pm every day of the week.

The first detailed policy review in 10 years of public car parks across the Derbyshire Dales began at the end of January this year and feedback to date from local residents and traders has helped shape a series of new ideas.

Fifteen suggestions were drawn up by a review sub-committee, but now one of the District Council’s key policy committees has refined the list for a public consultation which runs to 21 June.

Meeting last week, the Environment Committee decided on the options local people will be asked to comment on online from May 21 at www.derbyshiredales.gov.uk/parkingreview and via questionnaires available from the reception desks at Matlock Town Hall, Bakewell Agricultural Business Centre and the District Council’s leisure centres in Ashbourne, Bakewell, Matlock and Wirksworth.

The recommendations are:

* Introduce the option of a half hour charge within short stay car parks

* Designate specific town centre car parks as short stay only

* Introduce a flat rate charge for evening / overnight parking from 6.00pm to 6.00am

* Increase parking charges to help keep pace with inflation

* Bring additional car parks into charge

* Offer, at a charge, a second or replacement residents’ free parking permit

* Re-introduce a charge for the annual parking permit at the Agricultural Business Centre for livestock market traders

* Introduce parking charges for Blue Badge holders but with an additional hour free on top of any paid time

* Use parking income to carry out a machine replacement programme offering the option to pay on entry using cash, debit/credit card or phone

A campaign urging local people to have their say on the recommendations will include social media prompts and posters at the District Council’s car parks across the Derbyshire Dales.

The District Council operates 33 pay and display car parks throughout the Dales.

Final policy recommendations will be made in July ahead of a new car parking policy being adopted by a full meeting of the District Council on 25 July, with implementation set for 1 October this year.

A key aim of the review is to create a new policy that at least maintains the current level of income at around £2.5-million a year. Car parking income currently plays a huge part in meeting the cost of services for the 6.9 million visitors to the Derbyshire Dales every year and without this income from paying visitors, Council Tax payers across the Dales would face a rise of over 35%.

Chairman of the District Council’s Environment Committee Councillor Steve Bull said: “I am grateful to the review team for getting us to this stage. They have worked hard to draw comparisons between the Derbyshire Dales and other similar tourism destinations and it is clear that our car parks are currently among the cheapest in this respect.

“It was right to look at the idea of charging for the residents’ permit, but we stressed from the start of this process that some of the review team’s suggestions were tentative and might change. We are immensely proud our popular permit scheme, which has been copied by many other local authorities, is something we pioneered here in the Dales for the benefit of our residents. On that basis, we have decided to keep things as they are for the time being.

“What the review sets out to achieve is a sensible balance between the demands of the local economy and the obvious need to protect our Council Tax payers. It would be grossly unfair to ask them to pick up the whole cost of paying for services for millions of visitors.

“We have listened carefully to the views of local people and organisations to date, and now we want to get more feedback on a list of final ideas we believe can boost the local economy and also give users more payment options.

“However, the fact is that the Derbyshire Dales receives less Government cash than any other district in the county, so we are not in a position to simply write off the income the District Council gets from parking charges.

“The important thing is that no decisions have yet been made and we welcome feedback on the final list of recommendations.”