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Local Management of Biddulph Car Parks

By Lee Ramirez,2014-05-17 00:13
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Local Management of Biddulph Car Parks

    AGENDA ITEM 13.3

    STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS DISTRICT COUNCIL

    Report to Cabinet

    13th September 2005

     TITLE: Local Management of Biddulph Car Parks PORTFOLIO: Planning

    OFFICER: Corporate Director and Chief Finance

     Officer WARD: All Wards

1. Recommendation

1.1 That the District Council continues to manage the Biddulph Town Centre Car

    Parks and Biddulph Town Council’s request is refused

1.2 That the Leader of the Council and the Portfolio Holder for Planning request to

    meet members of Biddulph Town Council to resolve the current difficulties

    with the relationship with regard to parking policy.

    Reason for Recommendations: Local management of car parks would have a major impact upon the Council’s strategies and the limited advantages of such an

    arrangement are far outweighed by the disadvantages

2. Executive Summary

2.1 A review of the feasibility of the request from Biddulph Town Council to locally

    manage the District Council’s car parks in Biddulph town centre has now been

    completed.

2.2 The review has concluded that there are only three advantages of such an

    arrangement and that they would have limited impact. The potential

    advantages are as follows: -

    ? Direct financial benefit to motorists visiting Biddulph as they would be

    allowed to park free of charge.

    ? The district council’s relationship with Biddulph Town Council would be

    improved.

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    ? The removal of charging may support the business in the town centre by

    encouraging more people to visit. It should be noted that there is limited

    empirical evidence to support this advantage.

2.3 The potential disadvantages of the proposal however would be fundamental in

    impact are as follows: -

    ? Council would be duty bound to recover the costs from the town council

    including an appropriate yield from the value of the site.

    ? Impact upon businesses of free parking is questionable.

    ? Council Tax Payers in Biddulph would have to bear the cost of the free

    parking provision.

    ? Staff currently working on enforcement would have to be made redundant

    or even TUPE transferred to the Town Council.

    ? The Council would be left with residual contract obligations in respect of

    grounds maintenance, equipment maintenance and cash collection.

    ? The ability of the town council to meet the ongoing financial commitment of

    maintaining the assets is questionable.

    ? The district council’s Parking Strategy would not be applicable on a district

    wide basis and consequently strategic improvements such as

    Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) would be affected.

    ? There would be a negative impact upon the district council’s

    implementation of the Biddulph Area Action Plan.

    ? There would be diseconomies of scale with regard to the management of

    the district council car parking provision

2.4 The recommendation is therefore to retain the status quo and refuse the

    request.

3 Evaluation of Options

3.1 Option A transfer the management of the car parks in Biddulph to the town

    council (Not recommended) the advantages are far out weighed by the

    disavantages

    3.2 Option B retain the status quo (recommended)

4 Implications

4.1 Community Safety: None

4.2 Employees: None

4.3 Equalities: This report has been prepared in accordance with

    the Council’s Equal Opportunities policy.

4.4 Financial: None

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4.5 Legal: None

4.6 Sustainability: None

    ANDREW P. STOKES

    Corporate Director and Chief Finance Officer

    Background Papers Location Contact

     Property Services Clive Rhodes

    Moorlands House Head of Property Services

    Leek Tele: 01538 483555

Decision:

Reason:

Interests Declared:

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5 Background and Recommendation

5.1 Officers were approached on 18th February 2005 by Councillors Jackson and

    J Harrison with a request on behalf of Biddulph Town Council. The request

    was for the district council to consider transferring the two Biddulph town

    centre car parks to the town council in order to allow them to remove the

    current pay and display requirements. The town council proposed that they

    would meet the cost of the concession through their parish precept levy.

5.2 Councillor Jackson also raised this request at the Council meeting on 19th

    February 2005 and the Leader of the Council agreed to consider it.

5.3 Cabinet agreed to consider the request as part of the Facilities Management

    Procurement Review within which the future method of management of the

    Council’s car parks is being considered. It was agreed that a conclusion on

    the proposal would be reached by 31st July 2005.

5.4 This review is now complete and the outcomes and recommendation is

    contained within this report for members’ consideration.

6 Methodology for Consideration of the Request

6.1 The proposal has been evaluated by considering both the advantages and

    disadvantages of the proposal.

6.2 The evaluation has been undertaken by considering the potential impact upon

    the Council’s Corporate Plan including its strategic objectives and in particular

    the key priorities

7 Consideration of Town Council Proposal

7.1 The potential advantages of the proposal are as follows: -

    ? There would be a direct financial benefit to motorists visiting Biddulph as

    they would be allowed to park free of charge. Although it should be noted

    that the benefit would be limited as there is currently a trader discount

    scheme operating with ticket issues (discount at local petrol retailer)

    ? The district council’s relationship with Biddulph Town Council would be

    improved.

    ? The removal of charging would support the business in the town centre by

    encouraging more people to visit. It should be noted that there is limited

    empirical evidence to support this advantage. However, there is no reason

    to dismiss the limited evidence presented by various town councillors in

    respect of surveys carried out in the town. Although the results must be

    treated with caution as they have not been subject to proper research

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    design. The potential for the positive impact of the removal of charges

    must be therefore estimated as limited.

    7.2 The potential disadvantages of the proposal are as follows: -

? Council would be duty bound to recover the costs from the town council

    including an appropriate yield from the value of the site. Section 123 of the

    Local Government Act 1972 demands that we get best value from our

    assets

? Impact upon businesses of free parking is questionable. There is an

    assumption that charging has a direct impact on people’s shopping habits.

    It is probable that the construction of the town centre bypass has had a

    much more significant impact on the level of trade. The public resistance

    to charges is reducing as evidenced by: -

    - The increasing stability of income levels (up 10.6% in May, June,

    July when compared with last year);

    - The reduction in the number of fixed penalty notices (150 in May,

    June, July compared with 352 last year) ; and

    - The issue of parking charges is no longer raised at Council

    meetings with Biddulph Town Centre businesses.

? Council Tax Payers in Biddulph would have to bear the cost of the free

    parking provision. This is totally in contrast to the Council’s Charging policy

    which stipulates that wherever possible the total cost of discretionary

    services are met by the users of that service and not subsidised by

    Council Tax payers.

? Staff currently working on enforcement would have to be made redundant

    or even TUPE transferred to the Town Council.

? The Council would be left with residual contract obligations in respect of

    grounds maintenance, equipment maintenance and cash collection.

? The ability of the town council to meet the ongoing financial commitment of

    maintaining the assets is questionable. There could be major difficulties

    when major capital expenditure is required for significant items such as

    resurfacing.

    ? The district council’s Parking Strategy would not be applicable on a district

    wide basis and consequently strategic improvements such as

    Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) would be affected. An

    additional report on this meeting’s agenda proposes a countywide

    approach to implement DPE throughout Staffordshire. The removal of

    charging from Biddulph car parks would significantly impact upon the

    business case for implementation within the whole district and would

    consequently jeopardise the Council’s place in the first phase of

    implementation.

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    ? There would be a negative impact upon the district council’s

    implementation of the Biddulph Area Action Plan. The implementation of

    this plan could see alternative car parking provision and potential disposal

    of the current sites. Complications over ownership of the sites would only

    contribute to slowing down and implementation plans.

    ? There would be diseconomies of scale with regard to the management of

    the district council car parking provision

8 Conclusion / Recommendation to Members

8.1 It is clear that the disadvantages of agreeing to the transfer far outweigh the

    advantages. The recommendation to members is therefore to retain the status

    quo where the District Council continues to manage the Biddulph Town

    Centre Car Parks

9 Possible Further Action

9.1 The potential further negative impact on the district council’s relationship with

    the town council as a result of these conclusions and recommendations is

    recognised.

9.2 It is particularly important that this relationship is improved in the context of

    the current focus upon town centre regeneration in Biddulph. There are

    existing partnership structures in place to take these agendas forward but

    there may be some benefit in setting up a direct dialogue between a number

    of Cabinet members and a number of town councillors to attempt to resolve

    the current difficulties in the relationship in respect of parking policy.

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