What was the reason for Cabinet’s decision to U-turn on Fort Perch Rock car park charges?
To very little fanfare, last Friday Wirral Council’s Cabinet Member for Governance, Commissioning and Improvement (and Deputy Leader of the Council) Cllr Ann McLachlan made a delegated decision to abandon plans to charge for car parking at Fort Perch Rock car park in New Brighton.
The decision states “That the Leader of the Council” and is not signed by Cllr Phil Davies, one can only presume that when Wirral Council put in a press release “Council Leader Phil Davies has announced he has blocked proposals to charge for parking in New Brighton”, what was actually meant was Cllr Phil Davies asked for a report blocking proposals to charge to parking in New Brighton, but when it was decided he was unavailable so left instructions for his deputy to decide to block the proposals.
However that minor quibble aside, what does this decision mean? Firstly the current traffic regulation order consultation process is “discontinued”. This means the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel will now not meet in September to make a recommendation on it.
The decision also states “that the approved proposal to introduce car parking charges at Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton not be implemented”.
Interestingly the decision also states in the reasons for the decision (paragraph 2.5 refers to the report that accompanies the decision) “As described at paragraph 2.5 above, factors which were not known by Cabinet at the time of the approval of the budget proposal have become known during the Traffic Regulation Order consultation process.”
The report that accompanies the decision goes into more detail.
2.4 In order to implement the parking charge at Fort Perch Rock, the Council has been undertaking consultation as part of the required Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) process. Whilst it is not considered that there are any objections or other representations received which would prevent the TRO proposal being implemented, there are objections relating to traffic regulation which would require consideration of the outcomes of the consultation regarding the TRO by the Highways and Transportation Representations Panel.
2.5 However, it has recently come to light that the legal agreement which was signed between the Council and Neptune Development as part of the Marine Point Development included a clause which stated that should the Council introduce on street car parking charges in New Brighton and/or charges for the Fort Perch Rock Car Park, then the other car parks which formed part of the Marine Point Development could also not unreasonably be prevented from introducing car parking charges.
2.6 The wider introduction of car parking charges to New Brighton could potentially have an impact on visitors and businesses in the area. Given the outcome and budget decision regarding reducing car parking charges throughout Wirral in order to support businesses, this could potentially have a conflicting impact.
2.7 It is therefore proposed that the work to undertake a TRO be halted and that the proposal to introduce car parking charges at Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton, not be implemented.”
The legal agreement referred to above means the lease. Maybe it’s only recently come to light to the author of the report, but I published the three pages of the lease on December 22nd 2014 so it’s hardly recently come to light has it? However as Wirral Council is the landlord for this lease isn’t this a prime example of “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” or to put it another way silo working.
So how are the books now going to balance? Well the report states that for this year “income for off-street parking is forecast to be greater than budgeted.” and “The overall budget saving of £35,000 will be included in the planned budget for 2016/17, from further efficiencies which will be identified during the current year.”
The decision to not charge at the Fort Perch Rock car park will take effect from the 8th August 2015 (assuming that the decision isn’t called in which is highly unlikely).
UPDATED 18:56 3/8/15 As the TRO process has been discontinued, I’ve made this FOI request to Wirral Council for the number of objections and what was in them.
If you click on any of these buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this article with other people. Thanks: