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Free car parking for 500 Carlisle council workers

More than 500 permits have been given to city council workers in Carlisle so they can park for free.

Car parking sign photo
Parking at Devonshire Walk costs £4 a day or £50 a month for a contract permit

The council says it issued 509 permits in 2009 for its Swifts Bank and Devonshire Walk car parks and any returned permits are reassigned to new staff.

It costs the public £4-a-day to park in Devonshire Walk – or £50-a-month for a contract permit. The car park is used by both council staff and the public. Swifts Bank is closed to the public during the week but is open at weekends.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to Carlisle City Council said that “permits have not been fully reissued since 2009, but returned permits are reassigned to new staff.

“There will be no more than 509 permits held in 2010, 2011 and 2012.”

The move has been criticised by the TaxPayers’ Alliance as it comes at a time when both the city and county council – which has 59 permits – are trying to make hefty savings.

One of its cost cutting proposals is to get rid of CCTV. All but 15 of the of the current 63 cameras will be switched off when the council’s contract with BT comes to an end as surveillance screens are mothballed to save money.

That will leave only six cameras in the city centre plus nine in council car parks.

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Carlisle City Council needs to review this perk for staff.

“With necessary spending cuts that must be made it’s difficult to justify round the clock free parking for so many employees. It’s not for taxpayers to subsidise free parking for council staff, especially when the public have to pay so much to use the facilities.”

Councillor Les Tickner, who is responsible for finance, governance and resources, said: “Permits are provided to staff in relation to their work. This is restricted to a specific vehicle and can only be used during their contracted hours.

“Although we are not looking specifically at the issue of staff or member parking at present, it will be considered in the context of our Green Travel Plan which aims to bring a practical perspective in reducing the council’s carbon footprint.”

City council chief executive Jason Gooding added: “We have saved millions of pounds from council budgets over the past few years .

“This could only have been achieved through the diligent work of our staff. I value their work and their individual contribution to the work of the council.

“Raising income from staff for parking at work is not currently being looked into, but previous research has shown that there would be no guarantee of additional parking revenue from staff or other members of the public using car parks currently designated for permit holders.”

Last year, the city council took the radical step of freezing some tariffs and reducing others in a bid to reverse the decline in the number of motorists using its car parks.

Cumbria County Council has 21 permits for the Swifts Bank car park and 38 for Devonshire Walk.

A county council spokesman said: “The issuing of car parking permits for staff is regularly reviewed and they are allocated according to work-related need.

“Some members of staff, such as social workers, require easy access to their vehicles.”

Have your say

People need to get their facts straight. Parking provision by any employer is a non-taxable benefit. HMRC guidance 480 section 237,261 qnd 267 apply. There wouldn't £300,000 extrq income to the council as only few would pay, then there would just be another empty car park.

Posted by peter on 1 February 2013 at 08:38

Don't know how your relative manages that City Council slagged off again- the rest of us pay over £9 and have done for some time!!

Posted by Sal on 31 January 2013 at 19:50

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