New residents permit parking charges set for Ludlow – rules are tighter and most costs are doubled

The cost of on-street resident’s permits is to rise from £50 to £100 a year. Shropshire Council says the scheme will improve parking opportunities for residents in restricted areas. Parking is at a premium for residents in central Ludlow but one of the limitations of this scheme is that it does not consider the needs of town centre businesses. The new scheme, which also is also likely to restrict permits to one per household, is expected to be implemented by the end of 2018.

The scheme was approved by Shropshire Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday with the rider that consultation with local council members is maintained throughout the process of changing and introducing schemes.

Purchase of a permit does not guarantee a parking space. Each permit applies to just one vehicle. Households will only be able buy a second permit if the take up of permits is lower than the number of on-street parking spaces available. That means it is unlikely that second permits will be available in Ludlow’s Red and Blue Zones.[1]

Residents will be able to change their vehicle registration online or by telephone without charge. New householders will need to purchase a new permit.

I am not convinced these new rules will get rid of the practice of some households applying for permits for people who don’t live at the house. There is no requirement that a vehicle is registered at the applicant’s address or leased to the applicant. The expected restriction to one permit a property will help but not eliminate this practice. The hikes in parking charges and the increase in residents’ permit charges could make this legal but antisocial trade more lucrative.

Resident permit holders will also receive an annual visitor permit allowance of up to 200 hours at a charge of £5 a year. That’s worth £280 in the Red Zone and £140 in the Blue Zone.

The new permit scheme will first be implemented in Shrewsbury, followed by Ludlow and Bridgnorth. Oswestry, where residents parking permits will incur a charge for the first time, is fourth on the list, giving residents a subsidy of £50 a permit for at least another year.[2]

The £100 charge for residents’ permits will cover three costs borne by the council:

Administration and permit provision costs: £19
Enforcement costs: £31
Scheme implementation & maintenance: £50

Implementing each new permit scheme will typically cost £88,000.[3] That works out at an average of £253 a property. This is to be spread over five years of charges, giving a cost of £50 a year.

After five years, of course, the implementation cost will be paid off. So, will the price of permits drop at that point? Lib Dem group leader, Councillor Roger Evans, asked this question at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Council leader Peter Nutting replied, “That will be reviewed after five years.” I think we know the outcome of that review now. The £100 charge will be retained. That will mean that residents will be paying a stealth tax towards the rapidly diminishing highways budget. Consider it as a “pay to get your potholes fixed” tax.

The policy also sets out how new residents parking schemes can be introduced. Any scheme will need to be defined with the local Shropshire Councillor and council officers. A local resident will act as champion. Their task will be to gain support of at least 30% of households in the scheme area. Once the design of a scheme has been agreed, a questionnaire referendum of residents will follow. A scheme can only go ahead with a minimum of a 50% vote in favour and with the support of the local Shropshire Councillor.

The main criterion for a new scheme is a shortage of household and on-street parking spaces. Road safety is not a criterion.[4] Road safety always seem to be at the bottom of Shropshire Council’s highways priorities.

We have looked at introducing residents’ additional parking schemes in Ludlow – for Temeside Avenue and Jockey Field, and in Chandlers Close. In both cases, the main issue was visitors taking up parking spaces on Saturdays during peak periods and during festivals. There was not sufficient agreement among residents to implement either scheme. The new rules mean that single street schemes cannot be implemented. These streets and others adjacent to the Blue Zone could join that zone but this is unlikely to solve the problem.

Cabinet papers.

You can view the cabinet discussion on YouTube (begins at 29:30mins).

Notes

[1]. Residents annual season tickets will cost much more in the car parks: £320 in Upper Galdeford Zone A and £192 in Upper Galdeford Zone B and Smithfield. Seasons tickets will not be available in the Castle Street car park.

[2]. It is no surprise that Oswestry is last on the list. Priorities are partly determined by pressure from residents for permit schemes. Residents of Oswestry have not had to pay for permits since the unitary council was established in 2009 – a legacy of the former Oswestry District Council. They are unlikely to clamour for a scheme at £100 a permit now, neither are their representatives on Shropshire Council.

[3]. The Red Zone and Blue Zones are separate zones.

[4]. The policy states that if a new residents parking scheme is introduced, double yellow lines will be introduced at junctions, outside schools, hospitals, etc. “This may result in restrictions being placed where some people normally park and a loss in the number of parking spaces available to residents. These rules are in accordance with the Highway Code, Traffic Signs and General Directions and the Traffic Signs Manuals. The Council as the Highway Authority cannot encourage parking in an unsafe location or anywhere vehicles may obstruct emergency vehicles.” But if highways rules say these are unsafe locations for vehicles to park, why hasn’t the council already acted to bring them into line with national highway codes?

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