Reporting Person – Leigh Clarke
The Executive received a report detailing the proposed discretionary fees and charges for 2023-24. Councillor Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Finance, highlighted that the report needed to be considered in the context of the Council’s overall position set out in the Medium Term Financial Strategy later in the agenda, and the national picture. The effect of high inflation and energy costs on Council services was also highlighted. Given the Council’s financial situation, the Executive was faced with a difficult choice between delivering services at an additional cost to services users or not delivering those services at all.
The Portfolio Holder advised that the parking trial (£3 for up to three hours parking on Saturdays in Victoria Place) was showing early signs of success and it was proposed to retain the £3 for up to three hours on Saturdays in Victoria Place, and to extend the £3 for up to three hours charge to Sundays in all town centre car parks. It was also proposed to agree charging fees in respect of electric vehicle charging.
Councillor Barker drew attention to the report later on the agenda regarding the Cost of Living Crisis and the importance of making people aware of the help and support available, such as the Household Support Grant.
Councillor Davis raised a number of points including the lack of detail regarding some of the proposed price increases, the possibility of a 30 minute parking rate, the potential introduction of a dedicated chargeable DIY Handyperson service, and garden waste charges. The Portfolio Holder agreed to speak to Councillor Davis outside the meeting to find out what additional information would be helpful and added that consideration could be given to a 30 minute parking rate.
Following a question regarding the replacement of the Selective Licensing scheme by a Borough wide amenity standard, it was reported that the main benefit of the new amenity standards was that it would apply across the Borough and provide a consistent approach for all landlords and tenants. It would also be less of an administrative burden, require less staff resources and reduce costs to landlords in Canalside.
Regarding increases to evening parking charges, it was noted that the Council’s new car park management system included functionality which enabled retailers, such as the theatre and cinema, to offer discounted parking as part of a promotion. It was agreed that the proposed parking charge increases at Woodlands Car Park would be double-checked.
REcommended to Council
That (i) the discretionary fees and charges, as set out in Appendices 1 – 4 of the report, be approved;
(ii) delegated authority be given to the Green Infrastructure Manager and Strategic Director - Place, in consultation with the Greener Woking and Planning and Regulation Portfolio Holders, to finalise the proposed street naming and numbering fees before implementing these from 1 April 2023;
(iii) delegated authority be given to the Strategic Director – Place, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulation, to revise charges for the stray dogs service following the commencement of the new service contract to be effective from 1 January 2023; and
(iv) delegated authority be given to the Strategic Director – Place, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulation, to agree charging fees in respect of electric vehicle charging.
Reason: The regular review of discretionary charges ensures that the Council maintains its income base and generates additional resources for the provision of services.