433% hike in residents' parking charge delayed until April
COUNCIL bosses are pressing ahead with plans to charge residents £80 a year for residents-only parking permits.
However, the controversial 433 per cent increase due to come into force on January 1 has been put back to April.
The delay will allow the council to explore the possibility of allowing residents to pay for their permits in instalments and to consider a concessionary scheme for those on low incomes.
Existing residents-only schemes, which were due to end in the new year, will now continue until April, with no additional charge being imposed.
As reported, the increase provoked an outcry from residents who currently pay £15 a year for permits.
They described the price hike as "extortionate" and chose not to renew their permits next year.
That led to fears of a parking free-for-all in residential areas in the town centres of Grimsby of Cleethorpes.
In response to two petitions submitted by residents from the West Marsh and Park wards, councillors on the regeneration and environment scrutiny panel urged the ruling Labour administration to reconsider.
As reported, it proposed increasing the cost to £40 next year, and then by £10 a year until the scheme became "cost-neutral".
At yesterday's Cabinet meeting, Councillor Peter Wheatley, portfolio holder for environment, said the authority was right to continue with the planned increase.
He said the previous administration had made a mistake by not increasing the price from £15 in over ten years, but said he understood the concerns of those being asked to pay £80.
He said: "We should be moving on this. The parking scheme came to me as the portfolio holder in June this year so it has been a long time coming.
"When this originally went to scrutiny back in 2011 there were no call-ins. But I understand the concerns of those people that have been asked to pay £80 a year.
"I would like to think we are still a listening council and I would like to propose that the £80 charge is delayed and that the implementation of the scheme will not be brought in until April 2013.
"That will allow officers to investigate the possibility of a flexible payment scheme so people could maybe pay £8 to £10 a month. It will also allow officers to look at the possibility of a concession for those on low incomes."
His proposal was approved unanimously by the Cabinet, which will receive a report from officers early in the new year.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Andrew De Freitas (Lib Dem, Park), who has campaigned against the planned increase on behalf of residents, said: "I welcome the fact that there has been some movement on this issue.
"If inflation had been taken into account the price would probably now be somewhere in the region of £25.
"But when it comes to helping people on low incomes, the devil will be in the detail."