Council backs down after protests over parking permit hikes in Northamptonshire

Unfair costs: St James residents and councillor Jill Hope (Lib Dem, Sixfields) asked the county councily to scrap plans to increase the cost of residential parking permits on congested streets.
Unfair costs: St James residents and councillor Jill Hope (Lib Dem, Sixfields) asked the county councily to scrap plans to increase the cost of residential parking permits on congested streets.

An unpopular plan to double the cost of parking permits in Northamptonshire has been scrapped after a ‘storm’ of opposition from angry residents.

Last year Northamptonshire County Council consulted on plans to raise the cost of the permits from £25 a year to £60.

The permits allow residents to park in restricted on-street bays outside their homes in the most congested parts of the county, including St James.

But the plans, which also involved raising the cost of a second permit to £80 and limiting the number of visitors a resident could have through a scratch-card scheme, have been dropped.

The authority is now proposing to raise the cost of a single permit by only £10 and introduce a £35 charge for the second permit.

Councillor Jill Hope (Lid Dem, Sixfields) had fought against the permit hikes but believe the new proposals are acceptable.

“I’m really pleased about it.

“I think it’s great - but what is really great is it’s the people themselves that have achieved this.

“The Conservative-run council has recognised by the storm of protests that they gave us a very unpopular measure and they needed to re-think it.”

The county council will now begin consulting the revised parking permit plans.

All current permit holders have the opportunity to comment on the changes up to Thursday, March 5.

If approved they would come into effect from April.

The new proposals scrap the idea of a scratch-card system, which would have seen visitors effectively charged £1 per visit.

The new proposals will see the currently free visitor’s pass charged at £35.

But Councillor Hope says this will end the abuse of the system, which has seen some households paying for one permit and using their free visitor pass for the second car.

She said: “This creates a level playing field where the council will get more income but you won’t get people abusing the system.”

Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, Councillor Michael Clarke, said: “We are a listening council and, as such, took on board people’s views during the consultation into the review of residents parking schemes across the county.

“Changes were needed because the Highways budget was being used to subsidise the current parking scheme to the extent of £122,000 per annum.

“That is resource taken away from the road maintenance budget and that is unfair to residents who live elsewhere in Northamptonshire”.

“Our proposals balance the parking scheme budget while adopting a system which people find more agreeable.”