Royal Borough thanks community for feedback in response to challenging parking proposals

Parking fees consultation: Thank you for your feedback

The Royal Borough would like to thank everyone who took part in the recent public consultation on changes to Parking fees and charges. 

The council is facing serious financial challenges, driven by a number of factors, including historic decisions which have resulted in low levels of Council Tax, high levels of debt, and low levels of reserves. This is coupled with rising demand, and rising costs of providing services across Adult Social Care, Children’s Services and housing. 

Achieving financial stability is the council’s top priority and intensive work continues to put the organisation on to a surer financial footing. Cabinet and Full Council agreed an Action Plan to address the financial challenges in September. This includes transforming the way in which we deliver services, maximising value from our assets and increasing income from fees and charges. It is in this difficult context, that parking charges have been considered. 

The consultation on changes to parking fees and charges closed on 1 January. A total of 905 respondents participated in the consultation. As expected, many respondents raised concerns about proposed increases in parking charges, including potential impacts on local town centres and the impact on residents already affected by cost of living rises. 
The council recognises that increases in parking fees and charges are never going to be popular. But in the face of a serious budget shortfall, the council has to take tough decisions. Council tax was not increased in the past. This means that the council is unable to raise funds to the same level as most other councils and needs to generate income through other sources, including through increased fees and charges. 

To mitigate the impacts of increases on residents, parking charges will be frozen in the two main town centre multi-storey car parks operated by the council (Hines Meadow in Maidenhead and Victoria Street in Windsor) for the first three hours. The existing one-hour free residents’ parking offer at selected council-operated car parks will remain.  

The consultation proposed alternative options on permit charges for on-street parking in residential areas where controlled parking zones operate. A higher proportion of respondents living in Controlled Parking Zone areas expressed a strong preference for Option B, which freezes the cost of a resident parking permit for the first car per household, and increases fees for second and third vehicles. Changes to parking fees and charges will be implemented from 5 February.  

The council will continue to explore a wide range of ways to balance the budget, and proposals will be published in detail in advance of Cabinet on 20 February. Whilst the recent announcement of £500m of additional funding from government is welcome, the share that the Royal Borough expects to receive will not make a material difference to our financial position. The Local Government Association (LGA) estimate the local authority funding gap to be £4billion.

Councillor Geoff Hill, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Customer Service Centre and Employment, said: “Thank you to all residents, businesses, and community groups who took the time to share their views through this important consultation. The Cabinet is determined to do all we can to avoid a situation where councils have effectively gone bankrupt.  The Royal Borough’s situation is extremely precarious – and we have a responsibility to take the tough decisions needed at this time. 

“We understand the concerns raised and the reasons why many disagree with the proposals. But we have to pursue all avenues available to reduce the budget gap. In raising parking charges, we have tried to put in protections for residents and town centres where we can, including through freezing charges in key shopping car parks, retaining the hour of free parking for residents and freezing the cost of the resident parking permit for one car per household.”