Parking permit hike branded 'a joke'

YOU could soon have to pay twice as much to park your car on the street outside your home.

Proposals to increase charges for residents parking schemes across Somerset have been labelled “a joke” way of helping make money.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council says the aim is to make the system “fairer” and the authority will not make a profit, which it is legally barred from doing.

Under the proposals, people living in residents parking zones will see their annual charge rise to £45 next year, £60 the following year and £70 by 2016 – they currently pay £35 in South Somerset.

The cost for a second vehiclewill go up from £35 to £150 over the same period. Annual visitor permits will be scrapped, with visitor scratch cards issued at 50p per four hours.

Disabled drivers will not be charged for one vehicle, but they will have to pay £70 for a second vehicle by 2016.

The current discount for low emission vehicles is being withdrawn as it “discriminates against lower income households”.

Non-resident landlords will be charged between £150 and £600 for a permit depending on the number of zones where they own property.

Businesses in residential areas will have to pay £150, loading permits will cost £100, while health professionals will face an annual charge of £10 per permit to visit patients.

Permit holder Graham Jones said: “It’s a joke – first you get the Government saying they’ll freeze fuel duty to help motorists, then Somerset County Council comes along and swipes those savings from you.

“Councils aren’t allowed to make a profit from residents parking scheme – if they’re doubling the costs now, does that mean they’ve been losing money?”

A council spokesman said the authority is running a public consultation and people have until January 10 to give their views at www.somerset.gov.uk or phone 01823-358196 to request a paper feedback form.

He added: “The proposals aim to make the current system fairer across the county by standardising rates and ensuring the parking service can cover its costs now and in the future.

“We want to stress that all parking related income generated whether from permits or penalties is used to cover the cost of administering, maintaining and enforcing parking services across the county, helping to keep Somerset moving.”

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