Surrey Life article: “Council criticised over free staff parking”

This article appeared in Surrey Life on 3rd March 2011.

Council criticised over free staff parking.

Below are extracts from the article… It doesn’t mention Haslemere but it talks about the county council and other Surrey towns.

“PROPOSALS by Surrey County Council to introduce parking charges across the county have been criticised by motorists after it was revealed that parking spaces given to council workers could generate more than £2m a year.

The county council currently leases 500 of the 803 spaces at The Bittoms car park, adjacent to County Hall in Kingston, at a cost of £88,000 per year.

These spaces are then made available to permanent council staff, free of charge, however at the hourly pay and display tariff of £1.20 they could be worth up to £2,262,000.

Even the potential revenue from selling the 500 spaces as annual season tickets, currently priced at £2,592, would produce £1,296,000 – way above the county council’s target parking revenue of £1.1m.

Catherine Sayer, of the Oxted & Limpsfield Residents’ Group, urged the council to look closer to home for a solution to the £500,000 annual loss they currently make on parking enforcement.

‘Very disappointing’

She said: “Surrey County Council have tried to justify bringing in pay and display because they make a loss on parking of £500,000 a year.

“It’s very disappointing to now be told that they’re subsidising their own staff’s parking by what, at the least, looks like well over a million pounds a year.

“Rather than risk plunging local businesses into bankruptcy and inflicting another tax on residents, surely they should either abolish free parking for their staff or at least ask them to pay a reasonable price for it as the rest of us have to do.

“If SCC charged for this parking facility, they could more than cover their shortfall and abandon these unwanted and unfair proposals for on street parking.”

The information, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that while councillors are not currently provided with parking, all full-time staff at County Hall and Conquest House are.

The request also reveals SCC own the freehold of the car park but lease it to the Royal Borough of Kingston before leasing the 500 spaces back….

A Surrey County Council spokesman confirmed it owns and leases parking spaces used by its staff at other sites but would not reveal details of these sites.

He said: “Many of our staff are required to use a car on a daily basis to carry out essential services for vulnerable clients and other Surrey residents.

“Whilst we constantly review these arrangements for cost-effectiveness it is also important that we allow staff to use their cars to fulfil these essential duties”.”