21 July 2020
Exeter City Councillors will be asked to vote for the introduction of parking charges at all Leisure Centres and public open space car parks in the city, with the income generated being earmarked for Housing Needs and Homelessness services. The proposal will form one of two amendments being proposed by the Progressive Group of councillors to an emergency budget which comes in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. The budget and amendments will be voted on at the Full Council meeting on Tuesday 21st July.
Green Councillor, Diana Moore, who will propose the introduction of the new parking charges, said:
“At a time when we face an unprecedented economic crisis and Exeter City Council is struggling to secure funds to continue the provision of essential services, we need to look at new income streams. Charging for parking at the city’s Leisure Centres and public open spaces has been considered before. The challenging economic situation thrown up by Covid-19 means now is the time to introduce this policy.
“A small hourly charge will ensure the Council is able to generate additional funds needed to help protect Housing and Homelessness services. This is small change to most who drive cars but will ensure big changes to the lives of those who are homeless or sleeping rough.
“Although small, all parking charges inevitably encourage people to think about making journeys by active travel instead of by car. This policy therefore has the potential to support other important Council priorities such as working towards a Net Zero Carbon Exeter by 2030, the Sports England pilot aimed at boosting activity levels across the city and addressing Exeter’s poor air quality. It’s a proposal that will secure funds for some of the most vulnerable and needy in our community whilst encouraging active travel and helping address the climate emergency and Exeter’s toxic air .”
To ensure compliance with legislation, some car parks at leisure and open spaces will need to be tarmacked before charges can be introduced. However, Cllr Moore added: “I have had assurances that even with the costs involved in resurfacing some of the car parks – and ensuring adequate and secure cycle parking – there would still be a net revenue income, even in this financial year.”
The Progressive Group will also propose that any financial assistance from the government to compensate for loss of income be allocated to restore some of the proposed £5.8 million in Council cuts proposed over the next three years. They also want a £1 million fund being held back by the Council to be used specifically to reduce the impact of budget cuts or Covid-19 and not used to fund the development of new projects.
Liberal Democrat Councillor, Michael Mitchell, who will propose the amendment, said:
“It is only a few months ago that the council approved its 2020/21 Budget. Whilst our finances have been blown off course by loss of income and additional costs due to the impact of the pandemic, any funds given by Central Government to replace losses of income should be 100% used to restore the cuts that are having to be made this year.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor Kevin Mitchell, leader of the Progressive Group, concluded:
“We are attempting to be constructive and I hope the administration will take these two amendments in the spirit in which they have been submitted and incorporate them into the recommendation.”
 For a more detailed explanation of why Greens and the Progressive Group are proposing this measure please see Diana's blog post: https://dianamooregreen.wordpress.com/2020/07/20/the-councils-covid-budget/
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