Parking permit prices have been slammed as a ‘cash cow’ by councillors who are forcing a policy review to be heard – despite claims reducing the cost could threaten lollipop ladies.
Sheffield Council brushed aside two petitions calling for a reduction in permits for zones including Hillsborough, Broomhill, Crookesmoor and Banner Cross currently costing £36 per first car and £72 for a second, The Star revealed.
But Liberal Democrat councillors have now ‘called in’ the authority’s decision to keep prices the same, meaning it will have to be discussed again at an upcoming Economic and Environmental Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee before the plans can be put into place.
A council report claimed reducing permit prices could put other services at risk and Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, said lowering permit prices would ‘threaten’ services such as school crossing patrols.
Coun Joe Otten, Sheffield Liberal Democrat spokesperson for highways, said: “Parking permit zones exist to tackle local issues – not as a cash cow for town hall bean-counters. Yet the latest figures indicate the surpluses made from these zones could be as high as £1.5 million.
“When Liberal Democrats controlled the council we reviewed the prices and reduced them to fair level. It’s fundamentally wrong that motorists are being forced to pay through the teeth just to park outside their own home, when at the same time the council are spending thousands of pounds a day on high-paid consultants and trade union officials.
“It’s time for the council to review these prices again and that’s why I’m supporting this call-in.”
Coun Leigh Bramall said: “We want to keep the permit fees as low as possible but the Lib Dems know that we would not be able to reduce our permit fees without affecting and threatening other services, such as the school crossing patrols.
“When the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg are making huge cuts to our budget it is astounding and nothing more than cynical hypocrisy that they are saying we should lower the fees.
“The permit fees are low compared to many other cities and do not cover the cost of running the schemes. Even though fees have risen recently, they are only around the same as when permits were introduced in 2004.”
Star readers took to Facebook and www.thestar.co.uk to share their views. Timetraveller said via thestar.co.uk: “Emotional blackmail now used by this shambolic council. How disgraceful.”
Clunk72 added: “Lollipop ladies and men should be ring fenced and be among the first budgeted for. Car owners should not be expected to pay for them with an extra tax.”