No free parking for Dunorlan

THERE will be no free first-hour parking at Dunorlan Park when charges are introduced, Council leaders decided last week, as they weighed the budget against the results of an informal consultation.

Meeting last Thursday (July 27), Cabinet members admitted that Lib Dem, Alliance and Labour groups were all “divided” and “split” over proposals to introduce parking charges at the park’s two car parks.

Cllr Justine Rutland said: “The Lib Dem group has tussled with this decision over the past few months, and there has been a lot of discussion and challenge regarding the social, financial and environmental implications.”

However, hearing of the Council’s massive budget deficit for the current financial year, members voted to introduce charges with no free first hour – but with some “mitigations” to prevent parking spilling on to nearby roads, and to consider groups such as Blue Badge holders and park volunteers.

Half the respondees to last year’s consultation had used the comments box to say charges should be ‘£0’, and the survey had been criticised for not including that answer as an option.

However, Cllr Chris Hall, who holds the portfolio for finance, told the room: “When we considered the options at the CAB (Finance Cabinet Advisory Board), I don’t think not-charging is a realistic option.

“Ideally we wouldn’t want to introduce car parking charges, but we do need to be resourceful and find ways to fund our parks to the standard that we’ve all been used to, and that cost is only going to escalate.”

Council officers told the meeting that Dunorlan Park’s maintenance contract cost £175,000 this year, while inflation-based “indexation” of the contract is “currently” expected to be around 10 per cent.

Cllr Hall said: “Although £90,000 a year isn’t going to pay for the parks, it will be a significant contribution to the budget that goes to fund [their] maintenance. I was persuaded we needed to charge.”

Cabinet members approved the parking charges (except for Blue Badge holders), to start from October 16.

There must be a 21-day formal consultation, with local advertising, and Cllrs Hall and Rutland will be responsible for considering responses to before the parking order is made.

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