11 February 2024

St Albans Council’s Lib Dem administration has voted unanimously to increase parking charges by up to 67%.

At the 8 February meeting of the Strategy & Resources committee, which oversees finances and sends the annual budget to the Full Council for rubber stamping, Lib Dems and Conservatives unanimously rejected a proposal from Green councillor Simon Grover to even out parking charge variations to make them fairer.

Amongst 11 separate parking charge increases, now approved, are a 28% increase in visitor parking permits, a 33% increase to evening parking, and a 50% increase to sports centre car parks at Westminster Lodge. Sunday parking charges will go up a whopping 67%. The Council will also increase prices on healthcare worker permits and senior citizens.

Councillor Grover brought a proposal to the committee to scrap the increase to visitor parking permits and healthcare permits, and halve the increase to the sports centre parking charge. To balance this, he argued for small rises to multi storey car parks and multi-car parking.

Grover commented, “The Lib Dems’ huge price rises are out of all proportion to the relatively small rises in other areas. Plus they hit vulnerable people who rely on healthcare visitors and other visitors to maintain or improve their mental and physical health. My proposal simply sought to even this out a bit, but unfortunately the Lib Dem majority would have none of it and insisted on sticking with their own plans.”

At one point in the debate Lib Dem councillor Giles Fry said it was “too late in the day” to bring amendments to the budget, which should have been done months ago. Councillor Grover strongly objected to this suggestion, saying “It’s exactly the right time to do it - that’s what this committee is for. Opposition councillors only get budget details a couple of weeks in advance, so when else are we supposed to do this?”

The Council faces a £2.3 million hole in the budget this year. Other measures it will bring in include increasing  charges for green waste, museums and burials, reducing opening hours, and charging for under 5s swimming.

Read the full story in the St Albans Times