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WIRRAL: Car parking charges brought in after crunch meeting

WIRRAL: Car parking charges brought in after crunch meeting

Charges for car parks in towns including New Brighton, West Kirby and Bromborough, which are currently free, are set to be introduced after a crunch meeting tonight.

The move was voted through at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion, after a passionate debate within Wirral Council’s Environment and Transport Committee.

Conservative councillors on the committee voted against the move, arguing they did not have enough information to make a decision, while the sole Liberal Democrat councillor Allan Brame abstained.

But Labour votes, along with that of Green Party councillor Chris Cooke, were enough to get the motion through.

Tonight’s decision means charges are set to be introduced at off-street car parks which are currently free, including sites in Bromborough, Bebington, Irby, Hoylake and New Brighton.

Coastal locations will also see charges brought in. Again, this includes sites in New Brighton and Hoylake, as well as Leasowe and West Kirby.

Another part of the plan passed tonight was to equalise the fees to be charged across the borough.

Every council-run car park in Wirral which charges will now set a fee of £1 per hour for the first four hours, with a maximum charge of £5 for a full day of parking.

A number of processes must be completed before these changes come in, but the council’s financial calculations assume the locations which previously did not charge will begin to do so from January of next year.

The standardisation of fees at the rate detailed above is set to be introduced much earlier, from next month.

The move to increase parking charges and bring more in was passed by a full meeting of Wirral Council on March 1.

It will provide £1m of income to the authority and was a key saving agreed to in the budget, tonight’s committee was tasked with how to achieve this saving.

Any step which failed to achieve this saving would have to have been referred back to a full meeting of Wirral Council.

Tory councillor Simon Mountney said he did not feel there was enough information presented to the committee to make an informed decision.

Cllr Mountney wanted a breakdown of how long people stay at each of the council’s car parks which charge in order to understand which approaches to fee setting might work best.

However, Labour councillor Steve Foulkes accused the Conservative group of “abdicating responsibility” by asking for more details rather than backing the move on parking charges.

He said that all parties voted for the budget earlier this year and it was now their job to implement the decisions made.

Cllr Foulkes said little had been done to parking charges since 2017 and that they were similar to, or lower than, those in nearby areas such as Southport.

Labour’s Liz Grey, who chaired the committee, said increasing parking charges was the right thing to do as it meant the council could avoid making cuts put to residents at the end of last year, which included the closure of Europa Pools, the Williamson Art Gallery and getting rid of lollipop men and women.

Green councillor Chris Cooke, who backed the move on parking charges, noted that many households in Wirral do not own cars, as many as 40% in the ward of Birkenhead and Tranmere.

Cllr Cooke said that despite this many have to put up with the pollution cars create and that raising parking charges, or bringing new ones in, might persuade people to look at using other forms of transport for certain journeys.

Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter

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