Issue - meetings

2021/22 to 2025/26 Draft Budget

Meeting: 15/01/2021 - Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Item 40)

40 2021/22 to 2025/26 Draft Budget pdf icon PDF 269 KB

To consider the draft budget proposals for the financial years 2021/22 to

2025/26.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented the 2021/22 to 2025/26 Five Year Draft Budget and highlighted the impact of COVID-19 reserves that would need to be re-built. Within leisure, no support had been received and there was a loss of more than £2.5 million in business rates. Although the Government had introduced a number of grants to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 as part of the local government settlement, these were insufficient to cover the full extent of the additional costs and income lost due to the pandemic.

 

The Portfolio highlighted, amongst other movements, the Council’s very large deficit, the pay freeze on Councils and the new appointed operator for Kendal Market. There was an ongoing consultation on the increase to car parking fees and a projected deficit of over £1 million. He emphasised the great amount of additional work the Council had undergone while still maintaining control of normal tasks. The Portfolio Holder commended the Council for its commitment to investing in communities and thanked officers in the Finance team for their continual hard work during these difficult times.

 

Discussion

 

Members discussed in depth the raising of car parking fees. The Portfolio holder clarified that the last increase took place over 10 years ago. However, despite the appreciation that fees had not been increased for a considerable amount of time, Members highlighted the need to assist in financial recovery. Under this context, this was the wrong time to increase charges, local businesses needed every support they could get to overcome the pandemic and aid recovery. Members raised great concerns on this subject.

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder understood and expected such comments on this topic. However, subsidised parking was an extremely expensive way to help businesses; money could be injected elsewhere, rather than to reduce car parking fees. He found it preferential to support other projects, such as Kendal Visions, directly, rather than indirectly, through other means. The Portfolio Holder voiced his scepticism on the Ulverston Town Council free parking scheme. The Council wanted to support the community at this time, but also needed to be in a reasonable financial situation. 

 

The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder clarified from an economic development perspective, that free car parking, in very broad terms, did not necessarily mean shoppers would spend more money. The research on this area was counter intuitive and these principles were well established.

 

Members discussed the historic situation of New Road in Kendal, an area converted into a green space, but questions were raised if this car parking was replaced elsewhere. Parking was an emotive topic, particularly with businesses, and over many years, Ulverston business owners requested free car parking to generate greater engagement for shoppers. Some Members were sceptical of this success and were in agreement with some of the points raised by the Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder. Further, Members stressed that people had benefited for a long time without an increase in fees, and this was a matter of timing.

 

The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40