Car park charges in the New Forest district have not changed for some time. The existing clocks commenced on 1 January, 2010 and the Pay & Display charges were last altered in April 2009. In the intervening period, our operating costs have risen substantially (£250,000 in year 2010/11) due to a combination of the VAT rise in January 2011 and a significant increase in Business Rates, which came in to force on 1 April. There has also been a relatively high level of inflation which erodes the value of the income.
As a policy, NFDC has never tried to make substantial income from car park charges, as it has always wanted to support local businesses and provide local residents with the benefit of low cost parking. Indeed, we believe we provide the lowest cost parking anywhere in Southern England.
However, we do need to address the increase in costs otherwise this will become a burden on all council tax payers, not just motorists, or could lead to a reduction in services. Following a comprehensive review, we propose to implement the following changes as of 1 January, 2012:
Short Stay Shoppers Clocks - These will cost £20, which means that local residents can park for 3 hours on as many occasions as they like, throughout the district for less than 40p per week.
Long Stay Clocks - These will cost £100 and can be purchased quarterly for £25 to spread the cost. This provides parking for those who work in our towns at a rate of less than £2 per week.
Amenity Permits - To save on administrative costs these will no longer be issued and residents will be encouraged to purchase Long Stay Clocks as an alternative. Existing Amenity Permits will remain valid up until 31 March to simplify the switch over.
Pay & Display charges will be raised by an average of 10% to address the inflationary impact of the previous 32 months since the last rise.
Overall, we believe this is a very fair deal for the residents and businesses in the New Forest district, by providing low cost parking in a way that no other authority seeks to do. The proposed clock charges would remain fixed for a period of 2 years.
Cllr Paul Vickers
Portfolio Holder for Planning & Transportation
28 September 2011