Parking fees could help solve Norfolk council’s budget problems
06:34 PM July 4, 2022
On-street parking charges could be introduced at tourism hotspots to help solve the County Hall budget black hole and address “chronic” traffic problems.
The announcement was made as part of a series of measures agreed by the Norfolk County Council cabinet to deliver £15million in cuts, savings and new revenue.
Other measures include a one-off raid on adult social care reserves, a halving of the budget for mobile library services and the closure of recycling centers on Wednesdays.
But critics said the council was not even halfway to closing its budget gaps and more money was unlikely to come from central government.
The proposals represent the first savings of £13m from an initial target of £15m. In total, the authority is to find £60million in savings in 2023/24, as part of efforts to close a £116million gap by 2027.
The council’s plans include a rollout of on-street parking charges, which could generate £1m for the authority by 2024-25.
Announcing the measures on Monday, Andrew Jamieson, the cabinet member responsible for finance, said a parking charge for non-residents would help solve “chronic traffic problems” in heavily touristed villages.
A spokesperson was unable to say in which areas new fees could be introduced.
Norfolk County Council is jointly responsible for parking through a partnership with district councils and is implementing new permit systems.
Mr Jamieson said costs, particularly in services for adults and children, ‘remain stubbornly difficult to control’ and called on central government to find more funding for local authorities.
Speaking to Norfolk County Council Cabinet, Andrew Proctor, the leader of the council, echoed Mr Jamieson’s comments.
He said: ‘I hope the Treasury recognizes how underfunded local government, across the sector, is in the context of what it is being asked to do.’
Mr Proctor said there had been a tendency to give local government more responsibility but no extra money, which he called “totally and utterly unreasonable”.
He also rejected the idea that councils should be allowed to raise council tax beyond the current limit of 2.99pc.
Steve Morphew, the Labor leader, said: “The County Hall Conservatives are not even halfway to closing their budget gap.
“They are charging very long-term interest payments that risk ruining social services. Without the help of their government, we cling desperately to the straw of decentralization.
“[Government ministers] made it clear that it was more about process than cash. Even if this becomes a reality by then, the Norfolk services that many rely on will be damaged beyond repair.
While the changes have been approved by cabinet, the final decision will rest with the full board when the recommendation is presented as part of next year’s budget in January 2023.