TEACHERS could be forced to pay to park at their schools, according to a secret Kirklees Council document.
The paper, which has been leaked to the Examiner, includes several controversial proposals to plug a £2.6m budget hole left by the recession.
The authority has also been hit as drivers use the privately-run car parks close to Huddersfield town centre.
Now ideas up for discussion to solve the financial shortfall include charging teachers £500 a year to park at their schools.
Similar charges for staff could also be brought in at other council car parks, including the Galpharm Stadium and the Deighton Centre.
The document, which was drawn up for secret budget negotiations between councillors, also suggests increasing parking charges at short-stay shoppers’ car parks in Huddersfield from between 70p and 90p an hour to £1 an hour from September.
The move would bring in an extra £260,000 a year.
Tariffs at long-stay commuters’ car parks in Huddersfield could go up from £4 a day to £5, which would generate an extra £140,000 a year.
The document also suggests changing parking regulations around Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to bring in more cash.
There are currently 230 residents-parking bays within walking distance of the hospital. If these were switched to being pay-and-display during the day it could bring in £150,000 a year. Officers have suggested charging £1 for up to three hours’ parking and £3 for all-day parking between 9am and 6pm, seven days a week.
Kirklees is also considering bringing in charges in parts of the district where parking is currently free. Areas mentioned include: Slaithwaite, Meltham, Almondbury, Lindley, Marsh, Kirkburton, Honley, Netherton, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe, Heckmondwike, Batley, Cleckheaton and Birstall.
The document was discussed by councillors in secret in January as part of the so-called “star chamber” budget negotiations.
The paper shows that parking – including staff, CCTV and rent – will cost the council £4.17m in 2010/11.
Kirklees expects to take in £6.06m in parking charges in 2010/11 – a profit of nearly £2m. But this is £765,000 short of the amount the council wants to bring in for parking.
In the following two years the council aims to earn £6.93m – around £900,000 more than it would make if parking was left unchanged.
The document was leaked to the Examiner by a person who asked not to be named.
The source believes that, rather than putting up charges, Kirklees should accept that parking is less profitable than it was before the recession.
The source said: “The council may have to accept that car parking is not the cash cow it once was. They should accept that their profits will be hit.”
They added that the document failed to take into account the many privately-run car parks which have sprung up around Huddersfield town centre during the recession. These car parks offer all-day parking for around £2.
The source said: “You can’t plug a hole in the budget by constantly taxing customers. It will drive people towards the independent parking providers.”
The source believes the parking changes would alienate many residents.
They said: “Charging teachers to pay to go to school would be a sea-change. They could even charge sixth formers who are eligible to drive. It would have a detrimental effect on morale.
“Charging to park in villages in Kirklees would have a detrimental effect on them.”
Kirklees deputy leader Clr Ken Smith said yesterday: “Parking revenue has been under pressure since the recession hit and we need to relieve the pressure.”
But the Ashbrow Labour man said Kirklees would not be taking up some of the more controversial ideas in the leaked document.
He said: “We’re not going to charge teachers to park in schools or put in charges in areas where they haven’t been before. We’re going to raise this money by being clever.”
Kirklees also released figures to the Examiner showing how the recession has hit parking income. Occupancy rates in the council’s off-street car parks are down from 45,000 a week in 2007 to 40,000 in 2009.
Kirklees expects to take in £5.42m in parking revenue in 2009/10 – down from £5.85m two years ago.
A council spokesman said: “To offset this reduction, the council is planning to make savings in its operational costs during 2010/11, but will also investigate initiatives to better manage the parking issues in and around our town centres.
“Proposals currently being considered include a review of the on-street charging periods and ensuring the appeals process is fair by vigorously pursuing those who flout the law.”
The spokesman added that more commuters were parking in residential areas.
He said: “This movement of parking from off-street car parks has resulted in more commuters parking in residential areas near the town centre, which creates problems.
“This activity is a cause of concern and disruption to residents who have asked to council to take action. Indiscriminate and inappropriate parking in town centres also causes access difficulties for public transport and delivery vehicles”.
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