New calls to stagger parking permit price hike in North East Lincolnshire
NORTH East Lincolnshire Council faces fresh calls to drop its controversial price hike for residents-only parking.
Councillors on the authority's regeneration and environment scrutiny panel have urged the ruling Labour administration to rethink its decision to increase annual permit charges from £15 to £80.
Instead it has proposed an increase to £40 next year, followed by a £10 annual rise until the scheme becomes "cost neutral".
The council said the 433 per cent rise, from January 1, is necessary to ensure the scheme pays for itself and is not subsidised by council tax payers.
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But it has angered residents, who have described it as "extortionate" and are not renewing their permits next year.
The existing residents-only parking schemes in the borough will end on January 1, because not enough residents responded to a consultation asking if they wanted to keep them.
That has led to warnings of a parking free-for-all, as well suggestions of a drop in the number of cars using the council's town centre car parks.
Councillor Philip Jackson (Con, Waltham), who proposed the "phased increase", said that keeping the £15 charge, which has been in place since before 2003, was unrealistic, but added that hiking the cost up to £80 in one go had "turned people off" and resulted in the scheme "collapsing around our ears".
He added: "I don't have an objection to the principle of the scheme being cost neutral but there's a real danger that we will end up with a parking free-for-all and lose a considerable income from town centre car parks."
Councillor Annie Darby (Lib Dem, Yarborough) said: "I think the hike from £15 to £80 is unrealistic. Having to find that extra money in one fell swoop is going to have serious implications for people."
But Councillor Karl Wilson (Lab, Heneage) said: "In view of the savings of £30,000 a day the council has to make I think the scheme has to be cost neutral."
The recommendation, which was passed by six votes to three, will be considered by the Cabinet on Monday. which still has the final say.