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Exclusive: Doorstep parking at a price?

Will Liverpool citizens soon have to pay for the convenience of parking outside their own homes?

Published on April 7th 2010.

Exclusive: Doorstep parking at a price?

AN EAGLE-EYED Liverpool Confidential ranter spotted the possibly and alerted our readers a few days ago.

Was this an April Fools’ Day joke, or will 42,000 Liverpool householders soon have to start digging intro their pockets to pay for those priceless permits to park outside their own front doors?

We thought it was time to sort out the fact from the fiction.

Currently people living in areas where residents' parking schemes apply can apply for permits. This entitles them to park outside or as close as possible to their homes, including pay-and-display bays in and around the city centre.

The city is split into different zones and residents must park in streets designated as part of their own zone.

To qualify you have to prove you have a vehicle registered at your address. Additionally residents living within permit zones can apply for visitor vouchers. Currently 10 books each containing 10 vouchers are issued to residents. This ensures tradespeople and your auntie can park without being booked.

The biggest residents' permit zones are around the football grounds where parking is a nightmare on match days. There are also schemes around the city centre, stretching from Old Hall Street right up into Canning Street in Liverpool 8.

Currently the permits and vouchers are issued free of charge, and currently there are 42,000 permits in use.

Now for the (potentially) bad news. Liverpool is one of the few cities in the country issuing permits without charge. Some cities, like Newcastle and Sheffield, issue permits at a token fee (£20 or £10) to cover admin costs.

A group of councillors sitting on the Parking Scrutiny Panel recently received a presentation from traffic management officer Andy Barr. His report examined the average cost of establishing a resident’s parking scheme (£50,000) and the growing demand for more schemes from people living close to hospitals and university campuses.

(view report here)

The report then listed towns and cities which charge as well as the handful offering free permits.

The councillors agreed to visit two cities to see how their schemes operate – one with free permits and one city which charges.

The city they chose to visit with permit charges is Manchester. Currently the central area of Manchester is split into three zones with residents needing a permit depending on their address.

Permits in Manchester do not come cheap. The charge for the most expensive permit is just under £350, with the cheapest still costing over £100.

There’s nothing to suggest Liverpool will introduce a Manchester-style pricing regime. But given the financial restraints on local government, and given the fact most other places do charge for permits, it is logical to think the days of free permits in Liverpool are numbered.

If Liverpool charged a nominal £10 a year it would raise £420,000 plus the cost of visitor vouchers which would also be paid for. Make it a modest £25 a year and the income is topping £1m.

It is not a political matter as such, as it is, it may prove hard to justify a permit scheme subsidised by the rest of the council taxpayers, including non-car owners who have to pay bus and train fares.

Politicians can play a part though – by determining that any charging regime for residents' parking will only cost enough to cover the administrative fees.

The danger is once a charging scheme is introduced it could be viewed as a significant cash generator for the city treasury.

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