The Council is struggling to continue to provide the frontline services that our residents need. Every year, the Council spends hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers’ money maintaining its assets. In recent years, this has increased at Barry Island due to its renewed popularity.
Unfortunately, the National Government funding position for local government over recent years has meant significant and repeated reductions in our financial settlements. The current position means that, in seeking to best protect Education and Social Care Services (48.3% and 28.8% of our annual spend respectively), we are simply be unable to continue to deliver the non-statutory services our residents and visitors expect at locations like Barry Island; unless additional funding is made available.
In terms of the detail, the overall settlement is an average reduction of 0.3% across local authorities in Wales. In the Vale of Glamorgan the reduction is 0.7%, which equates to a cash reduction of £1.037m. In real terms, taking into account inflation and other known pressures such as national pay inflation and the non-funded teachers’ pension scheme, the budget reduction is more akin to 4.2%.
The impact that this reduction will have on local services and, therefore, local tax payers is unprecedented. In this Council revenue savings in excess of £50m have been identified and delivered since 2010/2011. The Directorate of Environment and Housing (the Directorate responsible for Car Parking, Highways, Waste Management, Shared Regulatory Services and Parks etc.) alone, has seen a budget reduction of 26% [£8.1m] since 2015. The Council now needs to save £3m in 2019/20 and a further £12m over the following two years just to keep within the available budget.
Our preference is not to upset our residents or come into conflict with local businesses. However, we believe we must introduce parking charges now to help protect frontline services and ensure that those who are using the car parking provision pay for its use at source. One of the alternatives would be to increase Council tax to cover the costs of car parking, resulting in the whole community paying, irrespective of whether or not they use the car parks. We feel that this would be unfair.
Whilst many are suggesting that charging for car parking can only have a negative impact on businesses in the Vale, we do not believe this to be true. Studies have shown that better management of parking can enable more productive use of (sometimes very limited) public spaces within towns. It is inevitable that there will be some inconvenience for shop workers and traders, who may have to park further away so that nearby parking spaces may be used by shoppers. However, it is these shoppers who, due to their improved access to shops / amenities, will spend money at these locations.