A range of changes to modernise and simplify parking arrangements in Plymouth have been agreed as part of plans to address the Council’s serious budget shortfall and address climate change.
The proposals, agreed by Cabinet on Thursday, aim to offer motorists a greater choice of parking and payment options, make tariffs and permit schemes more consistent and bring Plymouth’s parking charges more in line with other parts of the country.
They also aim to help tackle the climate emergency and support our commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030, as well as support the delivery of health care in communities.
A public consultation was held on the proposals and Cabinet considered representations from nearly 300 respondents.
Parking fees and charges have not been subject to increase, inflationary or otherwise, in the last five years and the price of residents’ permits has not changed in 14 years. Benchmarking shows Plymouth's fees are among the lowest available.
Currently parking in Plymouth is significantly cheaper than in other parts of the country. On-street parking costs 50p an hour less in Plymouth than the average and the average hourly charge of £1.15 and all-day charge of £8.50 in our car parks are among the lowest of all off-street charges benchmarked.
The changes include:
- Removing cash payments and modernising and upgrading all on-street systems to accept payments by phone (via Apple and Android Pay for example), credit and debit cards and mobile apps, offering greater choice and convenience for drivers and removing the need to use cash, which helps reduce the city’s carbon footprint
- Bringing on-street parking charges more in line with other cities, increasing the fee for an hour’s parking by 50p to £2 an hour
- Removing maximum stay restrictions in many central off-street parking locations
- Raising the price of residents' parking permits in line with inflation, from £30 to £41 a year
- Increasing the cost of guest house and hotelier permits from £5 to £7 (still providing guests with a saving of £19 off the face value) and replacing paper permits with a more convenient digital system
- Simplifying off-street charges by introducing three ‘bands’ for car parks, with higher tariffs in the most popular and centrally located car parks such as Elphinstone, Mayflower East, St Andrews Street, North Hill and Guildhall (Band A) and better value tariffs in Bands B and C. Proposals would see short-stay prices increase and long-stay prices decrease in Bands A and B, with no changes in Band C (where the lowest tariffs apply)
- Allowing drivers to move from a Band A car park to any other car park if they have any unused time remaining, providing more flexibility, convenience and value
- Increasing the cost of short-stay business permits from £150 to £200 and long-stay from £300 to £400. Discounted rates will be kept as they are for NHS and health care workers, who will receive a new, dedicated health care permit replacing the discounted business permit
- Supporting local businesses by reducing the free parking period back to two hours (from three) at Mutley Barracks and Napier Street car parks, where drivers are often now parking to visit other locations, such as the city centre and university
- Tackling the issue of drivers overstaying their free parking time at district car parks (and making it difficult for other shoppers to park) by introducing a system where they must all register their session using an app or terminal. Drivers will not need to display a ticket
- Increasing the fee of the popular Accessibility Permit (which allows blue badge holders to park for free in certain car parks) from £40 to £60 a year but expanding it to include all car parks
- Introducing a charge of £150 to cover the cost of installing a disabled parking space.
A proposal to remove the annual visitor permits available in some zones to ensure a fair and consistent approach across the city was not agreed by Cabinet.
Councillor Mark Shayer, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Economy, said: “These changes are long overdue and bring Plymouth up-to-date with the practices that have been adopted by many other local authorities around the country.
“Many of these improvements will make parking simpler and more convenient as well as help reduce the city’s carbon footprint and address the climate emergency.
“We know that any price increases will be unwelcome with drivers right now but we are also facing rapidly rising costs, which is putting us in a very serious financial position that can’t ignore. We simply cannot afford to keep operating our parking services with charges as low as they are.”
All of the changes will take effect from 1 December, with the exception of replacing payment machines (and removing cash payments) and the new system for district car parks, which will be implemented in April 2023.