Views sought over Dales parking charge shake-up

Car parking charges are under review

Car parking charges are under review

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Plans for a £1 night-time parking fee across the Dales are being considered as part of a review of charges by the district council.

Other recommendations include the introduction of a 30-minute charge in town centre car parks and new machines allowing drivers to pay for the first time by card or phone as well as cash.

The plans are part of the council’s first major review of public car parks in the Dales in a decade.

They also include the possible introduction of a charge for the residents’ parking permit that is currently posted free to all 33,000 households in the district, enabling them to park free of charge at every District Council car park before 11am and after 4pm every day of the week.

The permit currently costs the District Council around £2.5-million a year in lost revenue. Other options to be explored include introducing a paid-for second permit for households and charging Blue Badge holders, who currently have free use of the District Council’s car parks.

The recommendations will be considered by the District Council’s Environment Committee on 16 May.

There will be public consultation on the plans before a final vote on the plans in July, and any changes will come into force from 1 October.

Community forums, traders, residents, disabled users, town and parish councils have already been involved in consultations.

Director of Planning & Housing Services Paul Wilson, who is leading the review, said: “We are conscious that we are exploring some sensitive areas and there’s every chance that some of the initial recommendations could be amended or dropped altogether. However, this review is long overdue, so we have gone to great lengths to check how the Derbyshire Dales’ current policy compares with similar destinations across the UK.

“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.

“Without car parking income from paying visitors, Council Tax payers across the Dales would face a rise of over 35% to replace lost income, so 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.

“We are trying to strike a balance between encouraging use of our car parks to boost the Dales economy while protecting local Council Tax payers who would rightly feel aggrieved at the idea of being asked to contribute more to help people who visit the district.”

Mr Wilson added: “For an area like the Derbyshire Dales, which receives less Government cash than any other area in the county, there are consequences to adjusting a vital income stream. If, for example, we choose to introduce a new 30-minute charge, we have evaluated the loss of income due to migration from the one-hour tariff is likely to be at least £25,000 a year. So to make this happen we would need to be increasing charges elsewhere in the pricing structure to make up for this shortfall. We also have to factor in the capital cost of new machine technology, which has to come from car parking revenue.

“In short, we cannot simply ask Council Tax payers to pick up the whole cost of paying for services for the millions of visitors to the Dales, but, to encourage local trade, we are keen to adopt a flexible approach. We believe the initial recommendations that will go forward for further public consultation meet this aim.”

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