Car parking charges to increase in Sandwell

Car parking charges are now set to increase in the borough

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Car parking charges will increase in Sandwell from next year, after a policy review to hike prices was approved. The decision took place at Sandwell council’s cabinet yesterday (July 20).

Documents titled “Review of Parking Charges Policy” show the council will review increased car parking charges across the borough. Their reasons for increasing charges relate to policies on the climate emergency and ongoing financial difficulties related to coronavirus. The car parking charges, if approved, will commence in 2023. Season tickets for long-stay car parks are also set to increase. The charges will not affect Sandwell Valley car parks.

A new low-cost 30-minute parking charge to assist small businesses outside West Bromwich will be introduced, costing residents 20p for up to 30 minutes, going up to 50p by 2027. An average two-hour stay will be £1.00, rising up to £1.20.

The council owned multi-storey car park Bull Street West BromwichThe council owned multi-storey car park Bull Street West Bromwich
The council owned multi-storey car park Bull Street West Bromwich

Higher charges for off-street car parking

Businesses outside West Bromwich will face a higher charge for off-street car parking. Residents will be charged 40p for up to 30 minutes, going up to 80p by 2027. An average two-hour stay will be £2.00, rising up to £2.40. The council admits both inflation, a lack of revenue due to the pandemic, and workers’ preference to work from home, have resulted in reduced parking income. Documents shown to cabinet members note the council is in a £300,000 deficit for parking revenues in 2021-22. Without this income, the council said, they will unable to maintain the car parks and further highway maintenance.

The report states: “In the past, any surplus on the parking account have [sic] been allocated in accordance with statutory requirements. However, the sustained increase in working from home following the pandemic has reduced parking income well below the levels needed to fund this service.

“A deficit of more than £300,000 on the parking account was experienced in 2021/22 and is likely to continue at similar levels without action. In these circumstances, available service budgets are not sufficient to maintain normal levels of statutory services also because of the increased costs arising from post-pandemic price inflation.”

What have councillors said about the charges?

Councillor Jackie Taylor asked questions related to the feasibility of the parking charges

She said: “I need to declare that I’m not at first adverse in any way to the increase in parking charges. But in order to unpick and unpack some of the fundamental uses. As this puts us in this position of increasing parking charges can the cabinet member explain how this would influence our climate change policy, carbon reduction, air quality and sustainable choices?”

Councillor Zahoor Ahmed, cabinet member for the environment, added: “The proposed parking charges applied to the car parks in town centres that attract a larger number of costs associated with town centres workers as well as shoppers and visitors. The town centres have a good sustainable transport link via bus, Metro and train, train and also active travel opportunities while cycle lanes and pedestrian routes.”

Councillor Ahmed added parking charges will be considered separately for Sandwell Valley.

At a previous Sandwell council meeting, councillor Amrita Dunn had asked the Labour-led local authority to consider free car parking across Sandwell. At the time, she claimed 20,000 people backed the Sandwell Conservatives calls for free weekend parking.

Conservative councillor Amrita Dunn said: “Our families and communities are struggling so it is absolutely absurd that Sandwell Labour deem a 50% increase in parking charges appropriate, moral or justified. Within a few years – for a weekly three hour shop – the average resident will pay £85.00 a year on parking; more than an Amazon prime subscription.

“All this whilst our small businesses are struggling. The Labour council must support our campaign for free weekend car parking, providing a life line to our small businesses. And helping families in these difficult times. “Only then, will we be proud of our town centres and high streets once again”.

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