Councillors have voted in favour of introducing car parking charges at coastal locations including West Kirby and Hoylake to help plug a £1 million hole in the local authority’s budget.
Following a discussion lasting more than an hour, members of Wirral Council’s Environment, Climate Change and Transport Committee last night approved three out of four options put forward by officials, including tariffs to park on promenades across the borough.
They also agreed a proposal to standardise charges across the borough at £1 per hour, capped at £5 for all day, along with introducing tariffs at car parks that are currently free to use.
However, a proposal to introduce on-street parking in shopping areas of town centres such as Hoylake, West Kirby, Irby and Heswall was rejected and will not be progressed.
Chair of the Committee, Labour’s Cllr Liz Grey, told councillors that a full meeting of the council had voted in favour of hiking and extending charges to balance the budget, rather than alternatives such as doing away with school crossing patrols and closing leisure centres.
She said: “Full council has asked us to choose from these options. They have not asked us to decide whether or not we charge.
“They have decided that we will increase charges, and we will extend charging and they’ve asked us which options [to choose].”
The local authority’s Director of Resources, Shaer Halewood, warned councillors that the government is about to start an “external assurance review” as part of the conditions of a loan it granted to enable the council to balance its budget, and one of the elements is around “sticking to the budget plans”.
Conservative councillor for West Kirby and Thurstaston, Councillor Simon Mountney, described the proposal to standardise charges as an”under 5’s” proposal rather than a wide ranging review of charges, complaining that there was no information about how long vehicles stay for at each car park.
He said: “It is proposed as a fait accompli, that we are to fulfil our obligations. Well our obligations are to, as it says, produce a wide-ranging review, not necessarily at this meeting, but to put up charges we need a wide-ranging review.”
The committee voted six votes to four in favour of a motion accepting three of the options, put forward by Green Party councillor Christopher Cooke.