Good news on parking charges but not for Council Tax
First, the good news. Despite Sefton Council facing further significant budget cuts, there will be no increases in car parking charges in our town centres this year.
Freezing charges is good news for local businesses who are keen to see their local authority do what it can to help encourage shoppers into towns including Southport, Formby and Bootle.
The feeling is particularly acute after the recent closure of stores including Debenhams on Lord Street in Southport.
Parking charges bring in millions of pounds in town hall revenue each year, but despite its income generating possibilities, the council has decided not to make it more expensive for shoppers to park.
This is despite Sefton estimating that it needs to find nearly £25million in budget cuts in the next three years. This is the bad news.
Councillors will meet to set this year’s budget – year one in a new three-year plan – when they meet for a special budget meeting at Bootle Town Hall on Thursday, February 27.
According to officers, they face tackling a shortfall of £9.14m for 2020/21 and an estimated further £22.83m for the following two years.
It means Council Tax is likely to rise again by the maximum 3.99% allowed, meaning those in Sefton Band C Council Tax 2019/20 having to find an extra £66.33 on top of their current £1,662.32 bill.
Sefton Council leader Cllr Ian Maher said: “The process of trying to set a balanced budget seems to be relentless and we now have to make further tough choices for the next financial year and our budget plan will have to reflect this.
“While we have an excellent track record of effectively managing our finances and delivering financial sustainability, this is becoming increasingly difficult.”
While the exact details of the proposed cuts have not yet been revealed, Sefton’s fees and charges for next year suggest that shoppers driving into town will not be targeted.
It means the current on-street car parking charges in Southport will remain:
80p – Up to 30 minutes
£1.50 – Up to one hour
£3 – Up to two hours
£5 – Up to four hours.
The four-hour on-street parking limit remains inside Southport’s Red (central) parking zone, with a £7 charge for anyone who wants to park on the outskirts of the town centre for over four hours.
Central 12 car park parking charges remain: 40p (up to 30 minutes); 80p (one hour); £1.60 (two hours); £2.30 (three hours).
Tulketh Street car parks will remain: 90p (one hour); £1.60 (two hours); £3.20 (four hours).
Beach parking is set to rise though.
Proposals include rises in all-day parking at Southport Beach or Ainsdale Beach from £6 to £8; a new £4 late admission fee after 4pm; and a rise in annual season tickets (foreshore tickets) from £45 to £60.