Bromley Council are proposing to increase parking charges across the borough from April this year. Many other London councils are taking the same approach to solve their budget crises and help pay for the Freedom Passes of residents and other transport programmes. The price increases in Bromley will be very substantial. The average increase for both on-street and off-street car parking (in Borough owned car parks) will be over 20%. For example, in Chislehurst on-street charges will rise from 70p to 80p per hour and off-street car parks will rise from 40p to 50p per hour.
The justification for these increases given in a report to councillors included the need to compensate for inflation since the last increase in April 2012 and that the impact of charges on demand for parking would be minimal.
On the first point, inflation measured by the C.P.I. index is less than 5% between April 2012 to the current date and inflation is continuing to fall – indeed it might actually be zero in the next few months. So an increase of 20% in car parking charges is totally unjustifiable on that basis.
The argument that increasing charges will have minimal impact on demand is very questionable, is not justified by experience elsewhere and is contrary to the academic reports on this subject.
In reality, this proposal is about raising money to fund other council budgets. Any surplus from parking (on-street or off-street) can be applied to other council programmes and now that the council is under severe financial pressure because of reductions in central Government funding, they are looking for parking charges to fill the gap.
But raising money from on-street parking deliberately to raise revenue is illegal, and increasing charges might actually reduce council revenue rather than increase it.
Increases in parking charges will affect retailers and other businesses that rely on attracting customers to the Chislehurst shopping centres. It is also unreasonable to increase charges by over 20% in a period of low inflation and when many people have not seen increases in their income anywhere near that in recent years.
This latest step by Bromley Council continues a past policy of increasing parking charges at higher than inflation to create budget surpluses. We urge Bromley residents to oppose these increases by contacting your local councillor or writing to Councillor Stephen Carr, Council Leader and to Councillor Colin Smith, Environment Portfolio Holder, London Borough of Bromley, Stockwell Close, Bromley BR1 3UH. The contact details for your local councillor can be obtained from this web page: http://cds.bromley.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx