Thursday, October 13, 2011

Putting up car park charges keeps council tax down

In the Hunts Post this week the effects of the increase in car parking charges due soon are have got some people furious. In the article there is this piece of advice:

Malcolm Lyons, Huntingdonshire chairman of the Federation of Small Business, whose members include many shopkeepers, was furious.

He said: “It’s appalling at a time when people’s wages are going down that they put the charges up. They never listen. It’s a discouragement from using the town centres.

“They should keep the first two hours down to encourage people to do their shopping in the market towns, and put up longer-term charges.

“For local people, it’s the first two hours that are important. I say to the council: if you need to save £2m, don’t take it out on the electorate.

What Malcolm Lyons doesn't seem to understand is Car Parks cost money. In neighbouring Fenland District Council the cost of the car parks cost the Council Taxpayer roughly £400,000 a year. Fenland has a much higher Council Tax at twice the rate we pay in Huntingdonshire. The car parks that HDC control bring in roughly £750,000. 

The £2 million Malcolm Lyons alludes to is money that needs to be saved in the future. The increase in car parking charges is to do with £5 million of savings that had to be made. This is because HDC kept its council tax low for many years because it got caught out. Having kept Council Tax at a very low rate when it had to increase the Labour Government capped any increases. Not that this stopped Conservative run HDC from claiming the Conservatives were keeping Council Tax rises low.

The choice is very simple. Either cut services and put up charges or make a substantial increase in Council Tax. I believe the user should pay for services. Car Park charges in Huntingdonshire are very low in comparison with surrounding Towns and will continue to be low.

As for Malcolm Lyons and his "if you need to save £2m, don’t take it out on the electorate." it is utter nonsense because either we have a choice and pay for car parking or we pay through the Council Tax. Either way the electorate will be hit. Better to have a choice than no choice.

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