Council could bring in new parking charges

Parking charges could be introduced across Wirral as the borough council looks to plug a funding gap.

The local authority previously proposed bringing in parking charges across areas like New Brighton, West Kirby, and Bromborough but these were dropped in 2022 after Labour pulled support.

These would have brought £1m into the local authority but didn’t go ahead after the threat of a legal challenge.

Since 2022, the council has been developing a new parking strategy for the borough with a number of changes to improve services as well as fluctuating prices for car parks with proposals to help raise an extra £15.4m for the local authority.

Budget reports for the current financial year published before an environment and transport committee on July 15 and a policy and resources meeting on 17 July suggest changes to parking charges could soon be on the council agenda.

The report said, “Highways service risks a £0.300m shortfall on Parking income unless the proposed Parking Charging Policy is approved and implemented promptly to balance the parking budget.

“Furthermore, the Highways Maintenance Service will closely monitor maintenance costs which, in the past, have regularly exceeded budget by up to £0.400m to ensure a balanced budget is achieved.”

Asked for more details on what officers are proposing and when it will come to committee, a Wirral Council spokesperson said, “Parking Charges Policy options are currently being considered by council officers with the intention to go out to public consultation late summer / early autumn.”

Labour, the largest political group in the local authority, pulled support for the plans in 2022 after a legal challenge over the policy.  Both Labour and the Greens at the time had said new charges were needed to ensure the authority was not subsidising car parking at a time when it faced huge pressures on its budget.

Council deputy leader at the time and now Wirral council leader Cllr Paul Stuart previously said, “We are in the middle of a cost of living crisis, with government cutting council budgets around the country.

“It seems unwise to be risking costly legal challenges. We have asked officers to find the £500k shortfall elsewhere and are not willing at this time to support introducing charges which could cost more than they bring in.”

Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors indicated at the time they would not support the plans, arguing they would damage local businesses.

Image credit: IVAN SVIATKOVSKYI

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