Venue: Phoenix Chambers, Phoenix House, Tiverton
Contact: Sarah Lees Member Services Officer
Link: audio recording
Apologies and Substitute Members
To receive any apologies for absence and notice of appointment of substitutes.
Apologies were received from:
· Cllr Mrs S Griggs
· Cllr R F Radford
To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
The following members of the public asked questions in relation to agenda item 6: Car Parking and Permit Tariffs:
What plans are there for St Saviour Street and Market Place Car Parks in Crediton?
Crediton needs people to visit the town. It also needs workers to run local businesses.
Crediton is a jewel in the crown of the local area and any rises should be proportionate.
Nick Quinn (Local Resident)
The report proposes options to increase Car Parking and Permit charges but the “Way Forward” section contains errors and does not provide detailed justification.
The overnight permit charge was last reviewed, and changed, in 2019 – not 2016.
There are no detailed figures to ‘justify’ the very large increases, of 30% for General parking and 58% for Permits.
Even these percentages are not properly applied in the options given:
Appendix 3 – the Gross Income for Option 1 is 30%, for Option 2 it is 38%.
Appendix 4 – the Gross Income for Option 1 is 70%, for Option 2 it is 81%.
Stating ‘others have raised parking charges’ is not a justification for this Council to increase their charges, as the MDDC Parking Services have consistently been in surplus.
The report suggests that the increases are supported, because a Residents survey had said the Council should protect services. But the report does not make it clear how services will be protected by the increased income from these proposed extra charges.
What is missing from this report is:
The actual costs of the service;
The potential surplus generated by each of the increase proposals and
The use to which the expected surplus would be put.
My questions are:
1. What is the current cost of the Parking Service?
2. What will the surplus (income over costs) be for each of the options?
3. What will the surplus, from each option, be used for?
Mrs Kate Clayton-White
Our comments relate to the increase in allocated spaces fees detailed in appendix 4 from the report compiled from Cllr Warren and Luke Howard. Our initial euphoria at the Council’s decision to pause the proposed hike in car parking charges had wilted after reading the recent report by yourselves. In the first option you propose to increase the current charges of £425 by 50% to £637.50 with no explanation to justify this increase. You say that costs have risen sharply since Covid. What cost for our car sized piece of tarmac. The second option shows a 6.8% uplift applied to each of the past 7 years where fees stayed the same to generate the fee of £675. This whole idea of adding backdated increases seems decidedly dodgy.
The Council chose not to increase our rent during those years so the very idea of squeezing out additional income now by implementing backdated so called charges and seeking to ask current renters to pay for this deficiency in financial planning is grossly unfair. Why is this increase being applied to ... view the full minutes text for item 49.
Declaration of Interests under the Code of Conduct (00:15:00)
To record any interests on agenda matters.
No interests were declared under this item.
To consider whether to approve the minutes as a correct record of the meeting held on 12 January 2023.
The minutes of the meeting held on 12 January 2023 were confirmed as a true and accurate record and SIGNED by the Chairman.
Chairman's Announcements (00:17:00)
To receive any announcements that the Chairman may wish to make.
The Chairman stated that this was the last meeting of the Group before the election in May.
To receive a report from the Environment and Enforcement Manager providing options for the Economy PDG to make recommendations on the pay and display and permit tariff increases for the financial year 2023/2024.
The Group had before it, a report * from the Environment and Enforcement Manager providing options for the Economy PDG to make recommendations to the Cabinet to determine and display and permit tariff increases for the financial year 2023 – 2024.
The Chairman commenced the discussion by stating that it had become evident was that the Cabinet were not approving the recommendations of this Group with regard to car parking. He requested that a working group be set up under the new administration, including Members of the Economy PDG, to oversee the strategic considerations relating to future car parking fees and charges, leaving the inflationary aspects to be delegated to the S151 Officer.
The contents of the report were outlined with particular reference to the following:
· The previous advanced notice of car parking charges had been pulled following the decision of full Council on 22nd February 2022. The recommendations of this Group would go to the Cabinet for a decision on 4th April 2023.
· In response to the question raised by Mr Nick Quinn, the cost of the parking charges is £782,652.53 up until the 14 March 2023. There was no surplus, the proposed increases were about trying to reduce the current losses. Further financial information relating to the different projections proposed (and requested by Mr Quinn) is contained in the separate answer sheet which is being distributed alongside these minutes. In response to the questions posed by Ms Stacey Gray, no one wants to raise fees and charges in the current cost of living crisis but good parking facilities needed to be provided and maintained with adequate security. Again further information is contained in the separate answer sheet which is being distributed alongside these minutes.
· The first option included inflationary increases on all elements associated with car parking from 2016 and 2019 (when the scheme was last reviewed). Considerable costs had been incurred as a result of resurfacing and maintenance, particularly in relation the multi storey car park (MSCP). Any surpluses generated would need to be ploughed back into car parking services. Doing nothing was not an option. Whatever was decided would likely take place after the election and 21 day’s notice would need to be given.
Discussion took place regarding:
· The extent of the consultation that had taken place regarding proposed increases. Officers had been in touch with local businesses and did listen to public feedback but lessons had been learnt for the future.
· Changing the tariff only required 21 days notice.
· It was requested that in future inflationary increases be shown as a percentage and in a separate column.
· A proposal was made to freeze all current charges and a thorough review take place regarding future increases. The question was asked as to what effect this would have on the Council’s budget? It was confirmed that a £250k shortfall would result with the Cabinet needing to find this somewhere else in order to plug the gap. This would be a significant loss of ... view the full minutes text for item 53.
To receive a report from the Director of Place updating Members on activities undertaken by the Economic Development Team during the last quarter.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a report * from the Director of Place updating Members on activities undertaken by the Economic Development Team during the last quarter.
The contents of the report were summarised with particular reference to:
· The Shared Prosperity Fund
· Shop Front Enhancement schemes in Tiverton and Crediton
· Forthcoming digital skills workshops
· The expansion of new work hubs
· Two new members of staff would be joining the Economic Development Team shortly
· Note: * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.
To receive the Chairman’s Annual Report for 2022/2023 summarising the work of the Economy Policy Development Group.
The Group had before it a draft report * from the Chairman summarising the work of the Group and the Economic Development Team over the past 12 months.
The following was suggested, and AGREED, to be included within the Chairman’s report as well as sending a letter from the Chairman to the Cabinet setting out the Groups wishes regarding 3R as follows bearing in mind the effect of decisions made in relation to 3R as they may or may not affect the economy in Mid Devon.
“This Group wishes to leave a small but vital legacy that will be used to positively help the next committee and possible wider membership in its financial decision making. It essentially wishes to know what the economic advantages and disadvantages have been to Mid Devon?
The Cabinet had been asked that a report be sought that seeks to understand the way that 3R has been run and how the company’s current situation has been arrived at.The narrative of this report will be influenced by the wording and instructions given to the author of the report and it is this “brief” that will determine the reports areas of interest and commentary. It is the imperative that the author is specifically asked to look at “all” aspects of how the company has arrived at the place it finds itself today.
The Economy PDG therefore ask the Cabinet to ensure the author is required to create a balanced and wide reaching report that gives commentary on as many aspects of this journey as possible, specifically asking for commentary on the effects that decisions made externally to its own board by the original Cabinet back in 2019/20 resulting in a raft of external reports resulted in shareholder restrictions and demands being placed upon the company.
The Group request that opinion is given on the effects of the most recent decision of Members to refuse it latest business plan.
Finally the Group asks that the report gives a clear and unbiased opinion on the immediate and medium term financial impact to itself and this authority of how those decisions have effected current and short term predicted financial performance of the company and its ability to move forward.
Given this report is seen as the primary document that will seek to enable informed decision making on 3R and our wider economic ambitions by the next administration, it is our duty to ensure they are given as much information as possible.
The Group very much hope that the Cabinet will agree the inclusion of this information is vital to inform the decisions required by the next administration.”
A copy of the final report would be submitted to full Council at their meeting on 26 April 2023.
Notes: (i) * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.
(ii) Cllr J Buczkowski requested that his abstention from voting in favour of the additional submission in relation to 3R be recorded.
Identification of items for the next meeting (01:47:00)
Members are asked to note that the following items are already identified in the work programme for the next meeting:
· Election of Chairman for 2023/2024
· Election of Vice Chairman for 2023/2024
· Start time of meetings
Note: This item is limited to 10 minutes. There should be no discussion on the items raised.
The items identified for the next meeting were NOTED.