Agenda Item No. 5

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 30TH JULY 2018

 

REFERENCE FROM CORPORATE PERFORMANCE AND RESOURCES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 19TH JULY 2018

 

 

“           DRAFT PARKING STRATEGY REPORT (REF) –

 

Prior to considering the report, the Chairman advised that two members of the public had registered to speak and following the officer’s presentation they would be invited to come forward to make their representations.

 

Cabinet had, on 2nd July, 2018, considered the Draft Vale of Glamorgan Parking Strategy Report which had been prepared by Consultants (Capita) for the determination of consultation and engagement arrangements and for consideration of its contents.  The matter had subsequently been referred to both the Environment and Regeneration and Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committees for consideration of the proposed public consultation arrangements as described in the report and appendices. 

 

In presenting the report to the Committee, the Head of Service for Neighbourhood Services and Transport advised that Capita had been appointed by the Council in Autumn 2017 to assist with the preparation of a Draft Parking Strategy for the Vale of Glamorgan.  A Project Board consisting of the relevant Cabinet Members and Senior Council officers had been established to provide direction to the Commission.  The Council had to make £17m savings over the next three years, with Neighbourhood Services and Transport Division having to make £827k in 2018/19 alone.  The maintenance and regulation of parking spaces cost the Council £360k per annum.  This included car parks at Barry Island and Ogmore which the Council currently charged for.  There was a need to recoup costs and seek additional income that could enable reinvestment in the fabric of the car parks and assist other services the Council provided to continue, for example, investment in town centres, infrastructure and country parks. 

 

The report outlined that the Draft Parking Strategy could also strengthen economic and regeneration opportunities by introducing improved more efficient car park management which could improve user experience and access to services. 

 

A copy of the report had also been forwarded under the Urgent Decision Procedure to all Town and Community Councils in the Vale of Glamorgan following the Cabinet meeting on 2nd July, 2018 in order for them to have time to consider the contents of the Consultants’ report as early on in the process as possible. 

 

The proposed consultation timetable was outlined at paragraphs 36 to 43 to the report and at Appendix B to the Cabinet report.  Appendix B outlined that public consultation would commence on 6th August, 2018 and close on 28th September, 2018 with an Extraordinary joint Scrutiny Committee being established week commencing 15th October to consider the proposals, initial consultation findings and to make recommendations to Cabinet.  Cabinet would then receive reports from the Scrutiny public consultation on 5th November and make any recommendations as a result.  On 8th November and 15th November Scrutiny Committees Environment and Regeneration and Corporate Performance and Resources would consider the Cabinet recommendations with the intention that the final report including any references from the Scrutiny Committees and any changes to proposals be presented to Cabinet on 3rd December.  The Cabinet’s final recommendations to then be referred to Council on 10th December, 2018 to consider any necessary budget requirements. 

 

Having presented the report, the Chairman then asked the first member of the public who had registered to speak, Mrs. C. Ockerby, to come forward and make her representations to the Committee.

 

Mrs. Ockerby stated that it was important that any proposals that were made were correct and the appropriate approach undertaken.  She stated that she considered it imperative that all car parks should be considered in any plan and referred to the fact that the Vale Council car parks, at Civic, the Alps and the Dock Offices had not been included.  In referring to the timetable for drop in sessions, she advised that the timings at 3pm to 6pm in the day would not be an option for many businesses and not all would be able to attend.  Mrs. Ockerby also advised that a number of visitors had not even been made aware of the proposals and would recommend that the timings were reconsidered, and to seek views of the staff in the businesses is the best way to ensure their engagement.  It was also important to consider public meetings as well as drop in sessions as part of any consultation process and she requested that any surveys / questionnaires be made available in and around the Vale at various locations e.g. libraries etc. rather than on request and posting them out as this would be a considerable expense.  Mrs. Ockerby also made reference to the consultation being given to Holton Road School as there would be an impact for the school and its staff.  In conclusion, she stated that most people had only been informed of the strategy proposals via facebook. 

 

Mrs. C. Cook, the second member of the public who had registered to speak, then made her representations to the Committee.  Mrs. Cook commenced by advising that in her view, the Capita report had cost a lot of money and there were a number of inaccuracies in the document, in particular she referred to page 10 (i.e. Civic Centre) and the estimated number of spaces 140 vehicles, number of vehicles parked 14, the percentage for occupancy being 35%.  This was incorrect she stated and also by way of a further example in referring to paragraph 3.2 of the report, considered the figures reported to be ludicrous as, in her opinion, the costings reported would in effect provide for an overall loss as a result of the introduction of the charges.  Mrs. Cook also disputed the information in relation to Saturday and Sunday parking as there was no revenue from the sites on a Sunday as the sites were not open.  In her view, the revenue projections provided by Capita were unreliable and that the report should be relooked at and reviewed as a result.  Mrs. Cook concluded by stating that as there was more than an element of doubt to the report, it should be reconsidered.

 

Councillor Burnett, not a Member of the Committee but with permission to speak, stated that she accepted that there could be appropriate charging in some locations in the Vale but would leave that discussion for a future time.  She considered that the Draft Strategy was flawed and the Committee should send it back to Cabinet for further work before any further consultation took place.  In her view, the aims were unclear, it was impossible to discuss the fit between actions and outcomes if people did not know what the aims were.  The report referred to money without detriment at paragraph 5, but the Draft Strategy was saying it was a positive impact and queried these statements.  If the car parks were reported as costing £260k why didn’t the Council go for a cost neutral approach.  The resident zones, in her view, were not for a reason to improve the current situation but to enable parking.  The figures in the Capita report appeared to be inaccurate and the country park proposals were cynical with 8am to 8pm charging, the only people being targeted in her view were the local residents.  With specific regard to the consultation, the timing was inappropriate with holidays and working days over the summer months and the failure to meet with key stakeholders was, in her view, “folly” and referred to the previous consultation exercise that had been undertaken some time ago considering that lessons learned from then would be appropriate.  In conclusion, Councillor Burnett stated that “you cannot consult on a deeply flawed strategy, the aims of the strategy need to be clarified and holding meetings with stakeholders was key with the aim of participation not tokenism”. 

 

In response to the issues raised, the Head of Neighbourhood Services and Transport advised that in her 25 years’ experience in undertaking consultation exercises,  it was her view public meetings did not provide the appropriate forum to take proposals forward.  The drop in sessions undertaken for the Junction 34/M4 WelTAG study had promoted debate and residents had come together for the sessions with also 1:1 discussion taking place with officers.  The responses in respect of these consultation initiatives had been very good.  Chambers of Trade and Town and Community Councils had already been forwarded the Cabinet report in order that they could consider proposals prior to the summer recess.  A considerable amount of time and effort had been put in to consider how to achieve responses from town centres and visitors and questionnaires would be available via the Neighbourhood Services and Transport section on request.  She was however happy to take advice on staggering the timings for drop in sessions, but in her view the timing between 5pm – 6pm would be most appropriate as this would catch people finishing work.  In the main, the questionnaire survey would be undertaken online, which would also then be able to be fed into the survey software that was being used for the consultation, which provides quick and timely feedback for management and Cabinet to consider.

 

A number of Members considered that in their view, the Capita report was flawed, there were inaccuracies within the document that needed to be resolved before any consultation took place.  It was important to also have learned from lessons learned in previous consultations and that it was imperative that public meetings also took place as well as drop in sessions.  A suggestion that all questionnaires be forwarded via e-mail to all Town and Community Councils who could then put copies in their buildings for the public.  Reference was also made to the fact that Penarth Town Centre, for example, did not have a car park and that it was important to consult with traders there as on-street parking was also an issue with displacement possibly being a potential consequence.  The point raised by Mrs. Ockerby in relation to staff parking was also an issue, with Members suggesting that this may breach equalities. 

 

A Member stated that, in his view, the report had caused a number of concerns, in particular in relation to the statement in the first bullet point at paragraph 5 “to realise the maximum levels of income without reducing visitor or user numbers or detrimentally affecting the local economy” this had been the catalyst that had caused in the main the concern with the process and the strategy.  In his view, it was important to manage enforcement in the first instance.  Although acknowledging that there would be a number of opportunities for Members of the Council to scrutinise the proposals and be part of the Joint Scrutiny Committee, concern was raised regarding the ability to fully analyse all the responses received in the timescales proposed.  The officer  advised that the timescales identified were able to be reached, however there having been no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) undertaken in advance of the proposals was also a concern for Members. 

 

A Member of the Committee who was also a Member of the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee which had considered the report the previous week stated that having considered the comments of Members of the Committee and the comments made by members of the public, he had reconsidered his position and was also in favour of the report being referred back to Cabinet for review. 

 

Following full consideration of the report and its contents, the Scrutiny Committee subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be requested to rethink and review the Strategy proposals in light of the comments raised at the Scrutiny Committee and, in particular, to reconsider the Capita report having regard to a number of errors contained therein.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

It was the Committee’s view that the Strategy was flawed, there were inaccuracies in the Capita document and the consultation should be reconsidered.”