Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 28TH APRIL 2014
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 1ST APRIL, 2014
991 FEES AND CHARGES: COUNTRYSIDE SERVICE (REF) –
Cabinet had, on 24th March 2014, considered a report in respect of changes to charges levied at Cosmeston Lakes and Porthkerry Country Park, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre and in respect of the making of specific Public Path Orders. The charges were contained in Appendices A, B, C and D to the report with the implementation date of April 2014. The charges agreed by Cabinet were with the view that they be the maximum with the Director of Development Services having delegated authority to vary for promotions. The Director of Development Services had also received the authority to waive charges for Public Path Orders where a substantive public interest existed.
The report had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for information. In respect of car parking charging at Porthkerry Country Park, the Operational Manager for Countryside and Economic Projects stated that, following a review in 2013 as requested by the Committee, Cabinet had agreed to continue with the current arrangements particularly for weekend and Bank Holiday charges as this was considered to be a flexible approach dependent upon weather conditions. Mr. Guy explained the charges were levied only in order to provide staff to monitor car parking as a result of historic safety issues. After breaking even in 2012, in 2013 the Council had made a £5,000 surplus due to increased visitor numbers following a better summer than in previous years. For the current year it had therefore been proposed to adopt the same charges as 2013.
The Operational Manager stated that he would be undertaking a review prior to April 2015 in respect of charges at Cosmeston Country Park. In response to a query regarding Porthkerry Park and its and staffing arrangements, it was confirmed that employees worked a minimum number of hours which were flexible. The view had been taken that if for example if it was anticipated that weather conditions would be bad staff would not be required. However, if visitor numbers were likely to increase due to good weather staff could be called in to work at short notice.
Some Members from the Barry area were disappointed that the Council was continuing to charge at Porthkerry and in their view there was inconsistency in the charging policy. They considered that if one area was being looked at all sites should be considered at the same time. However, Members were reminded of the differences between Porthkerry and Cosmeston in that a presence was required at Porthkerry Park in order to manage car parking arrangements. Members however, accepted that the suggestion of placing yellow lines in the Country Park would not be appropriate and that it would be a considerable cost with the road also requiring attention and traffic regulation orders being made at a cost of £24,000. Although some Members empathised with the Operational Manager regarding the car parking issues at Porthkerry they however felt that a further review should be undertaken.
The Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sport Development, with permission to speak, advised that there needed to be some management at Porthkerry and the Council had extremely tight budgets and, in his view, the issue of Cosmeston had to be considered in some depth.
During the discussion a Member also took the opportunity to congratulate officers in relation to the charges for filming within the Vale, as they considered that these were more competitive rates.
Following the discussion, it was subsequently
RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be requested to agree that a fundamental review be undertaken of car parking charging for Countryside Services in light of the comments above, and that this be reported to the Committee in due course.
Reason for recommendation
The Committee considered that a fundamental review was essential in view of the different charges within the Countryside service.