Monday, February 8, 2016

News: Budget could put brakes on free parking in Rotherham town centre

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An option backed by local businesses to offer free Saturday parking in Council car parks in Rotherham town centre may not happen even if some parking charges rise.

Rothbiz reported first that some parking charges in Rotherham town centre could double as the Council considers how to find more than £48m of budget savings over the next three years.

The Council has been looking at the issue of parking in relation to the local economy and businesses located in the town centre. Rotherham is a Portas Pilot town and one of the key recommendations in the Mary Portas High Street Review was that high streets and town centres should have the flexibility to introduce local parking initiatives to boost trade. This is particularly pertinent to Rotherham, given the proximity to Parkgate and Meadowhall, both of which have a free parking offer.

A number of parking intiatives have been introduced in recent years in an effort to support the businesses in the town centre. The Council again offered free parking on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas and free, limited stay parking is continuing on Forge Island.

The latest proposals include amending parking charges in the town centre to generate additional income in order to help ensure a more self-financing Parking Service which currently has an "underlying budget pressure" of £137,000.

Two options have been outlined in reports for discussion by councillors and commissioners. Both include increases to some on-street and off-street car parking charges. In meetings with the Council, town centre businesses indicated support for tariff increases only on the basis that this could fund free Saturday parking.

Councillors on the Overview & Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB) said that they were only supportive of the option to increase charges on the basis of free (off street) parking being provided on Saturdays. This will lower the levels of potential income and leave a £62,000 deficit within the service.

In response, Stella Manzie, commissioner and managing director told the councillors: "I note the OSMB's eagerness for free parking on Saturdays, given this is clearly the preferred position of town centre businesses. However, I have been advised that the proposed increases in charges are broadly in line with neighbouring councils and neither Sheffield nor Doncaster provides free Saturday parking (other than in the run up to Christmas).

"In addition, it must be emphasised that the service currently runs at a significant (£137,000) annual deficit in running the service. For these reasons, I do not feel able to support the OSMB position.

"I do, however, feel that a fuller review of the parking service and its commercial approach would add value and this may, for example, be something that a detailed scrutiny review in the coming year would helpfully support."

The council's Improving Places Select Commission established a Task and Finish Group into car parking in the Rotherham town centre last year.

A decision on parking charges, and all other budget proposals, is set to be made at the full council meeting in March.

Rotherham town centre website

Images: RMBC

1 comments:

Mr me February 8, 2016 at 9:54 AM  

Problems not parking.Get some attraction cinema,some reasonable restraunts bars,eateries and some shops people with cash who work want to spend in,as opposed to cheap rubbish for benifits culture,then we wouldnt mind paying to park,why pay when theres nothing worth bothering to go to in town centre?

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