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Parking fee rise agreed to protect services and reduce costs

Parking fee rise will protect services and reduce costs

27 October 2022
[ Zoom ]
Graphic showing a P for parking sign with overlaid images of a road, cyclist and person walking

A proposed increase in off-street car parking fees, the first in almost five years, has been given the go-ahead following further discussion by Wokingham Borough Council.


At a meeting on Tuesday (25 October), the authority’s overview and scrutiny management committee voted to confirm the decision originally made by its executive on 29 September.


The executive’s decision was “called in” shortly afterwards by members for more detailed examination, which the council constitution allows to ensure its business is conducted democratically.


This week the scrutiny committee found that, in the circumstances, there was no reason to refer this decision back to the executive and it should therefore be implemented.

A necessary measure to protect your services

The council must increase parking charges (please note: charging schedule has since been amended) to make up an expected shortfall of up to £800,000 in parking revenue this financial year, caused partly by the covid-19 pandemic and changing work habits.


This will allow it to maintain its highways network at the current standard – and, crucially, without impacting on services used by the borough’s more vulnerable residents including children, the elderly and those on low incomes.


The council faces unprecedented financial pressure as running costs like energy spiral upwards, but it has pledged to continue protecting those in need from the ongoing cost of living crisis.


Unlike many other local authorities, it hasn't increased off-street parking charges since April 2018 and they have remained among the lowest both in the local area and regionally.


This means they haven't kept pace with inflation, unlike those for other council services, at a time of reduced usage. They will remain competitive compared with similar authorities, many of which are considering similar increases or have even passed them already.


However, in response to comments from residents, businesses and others, the proposal was amended before the executive meeting to introduce a two-tier system with lower charges for car parks outside Wokingham town.

Listening to the community's response


Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said: “Given our need to start making up the expected deficit in parking income as soon as possible, we are pleased that we can now go ahead with our proposal.


“We’ve listened to representations from our community, both before the decision and again at this week’s committee meeting - and although we’ve done our best to respond, we realise this has proven unpopular with many at a time when costs are rising on all fronts.


“We sympathise with people’s concerns but, given the pressures we face, keeping parking charges at the current level isn’t an option. The long-term consequences would be far worse for our highways and the other services that residents depend on.


“Our parking fees have been exceptionally low for many years and we just can't afford it any more. The increase will bring our finances to where we always needed to be and would have been less severe if they'd risen incrementally since 2018, as in other councils’ areas, and not all at once.”


The proposed changes to charges, along with the hours and days of charging, will be the subject of a draft traffic regulation order that will go out for consultation next month. 

It is expected that the increase would come into effect from January next year at the earliest.

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