Hundreds of Sheffield councillors and employees have access to free parking – despite politicians urging residents to walk and cycle more

Hundreds of Sheffield councillors and employees have access to free parking – despite politicians urging residents to walk and cycle more.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 4:05 pm

There are 377 councillors and staff who have an opportunity to park in internal council building car parks.

The parking provision is not based on seniority or grade but is available for councillors who drive, rather than use public transport, for council activities.

Blue badge holders or staff with mobility problems are also catered for. And there are spaces for staff who use their vehicle for business use plus a limited number of corporate 24/7 on call duty emergency planning employees.

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City centre parking.

Coun Douglas Johnson, Executive member for transport, said the council should lead by example in promoting alternatives to private cars.

“We all need to do our bit to use cars less, especially in the city centre. Using cars less means cleaner air and safer roads and supports our public transport network.

“There are some good reasons why councillors and staff need access to cars, including for people with severe disabilities and those who need to use the car on legitimate official business, however, this can and should be minimised.

“Green councillors proposed a budget-saving amendment to stop reimbursing car parking claims for elected members who do not have a blue badge.

“Councillors need to be properly remunerated for their work but should use public transport unless really necessary.

“There is also an opportunity for the council to invest in cleaner electric cars and bikes for officers to carry out visits on official business. This would reduce the number of private cars being brought into the city centre unnecessarily.”

A Freedom of Information request revealed councillors and staff are allocated against one of five different categories.

The FOI says: “They are allocated permits to access an opportunity to park, rather than a parking space, either within our core building car parks or on-street little used bays or car parks.

“This avoids a significant expenditure on resources authorising, processing and refunding legitimate expenses claims and staff having to pay and display then awaiting refund for business use expenses.

“An annual renewal process takes place requiring line managers to confirm that staff still meet the appropriate criteria. If they do not for staff and their role or use has changed, provision is removed.”

There are 39 officers with blue badges and 71 members of staff with mobility problems who can park each time they are at work.

Other councillors or staff should only use the parking provision for business use.

The FOI adds: “The estimated cost of an on-street public parking bay for all day, everyday use if it was purchased is around £1,500. We do not charge for parking in our internal building car parks so could not give information on value.

“Blue badge holders would not pay for parking. The value of business use will be variable dependent on how often and how long they park.”