Good News: The proposal to charge for visitors has been withdrawn
As it stands today the council is having to save or draw in income amounting to over £11 million. This is after increased council tax and use of reserves is factored in. So we’re under pressure and there’s some difficult decisions to make. So far the council has identified £5.5m savings and income proposals.
We won’t know the full position until the government announces the draft local government finance settlement in December but it’s a difficult situation. We’re currently scrutinising proposals for the budget based on what we know now.
As can be seen below nearly half the proposed savings are coming from the ‘Place Directorate’ and these are being looked at tonight.
Looking at the ‘Place’ savings, the majority is coming from savings in waste. It shows how important recycling is to the council. Contaminated waste really costs us and it’s vital to keep improving recycling rates to get that waste levy down.
An area I’m having problems with and I’m keen to focus in on is the £100,000 review of resident parking permits.
I’ve learned that it contains the introduction of charges for visitors permits. Currently Gorse Hill gets a small pack of free visitor permits. This works well but it’s now proposed to charge £25 for 12 visitor permits at the start of the season.
This proposal has now been withdrawn.
The Council has got this wrong I think. The whole point of the permit scheme is to allow residents close to the ground to have normal lives as far as possible. The council shouldn’t be trying to make money out of it. I’m convinced some will pay and others won’t. It’s common under the current scheme for visiting passes to get shared when it comes to weddings, funerals or building work. That sharing ethos is put at risk and I’m not sure they’ll get as big a take-up as they’re anticipating. So I’m very much trying to get them to rethink.
We do need to raise money though and I’ve included suggestions.
- We could be bringing Sundays into line with other days and start charging on the car parks etc. Currently it’s free to park on a Sunday. Given we want to charge people to have visitors on a Sunday in Gorse Hill, I don’t think it stacks up.
- I also think we’re massively undercharging for match day street vending. Our top rate is just over £3000 for a prime spot. When you compare that to how much operators have to pay for a weekend’s pitch at festivals there’s a huge discrepancy. You might pay £18,000 for a few days.
I’ll report back how I get on but I’m determined to get rid of the charges for visitors.