The Committee considered the report of the Director of Resources seeking Members’ approval to progress an application for utilising part of the Operational Reserve of £186,000 from the South Essex Parking Partnership (SEPP) for three parking projects, as follows:
· Repairs to car park surfaces at Butt Lane and White Horse...... £137,500
· Feasibility study for a potential additional Car Park.................... £28,000
· Delivery of a Car Park Charging Strategy.................................... £7,200
It was noted that use of the Operational Reserve was restricted to expenditure which fell within Section 55 of the Road Traffic Act 1984.
The report provided background information regarding the SEPP and noted its success particularly in its generation of additional investment and an operational Reserve. It was noted that the Operational Reserve did not have to be used in the current financial year and would remain available to access for further / future projects.
During the debate that followed Officers provided further clarification on the proposal including:
· The monies had to be spent on car parking highways related issues.
· Officers had followed the same process used when surplus monies were previously available. It was noted that the previous surplus had funded pay and display equipment in the Council’s car parks.
· The Car Parking Working Group had a focus on fees and charges.
Councillor R H Siddall expressed concern that the surplus did not have to be spent on car parking and could be used for environmental projects and other things. He noted that the car parking surfaces had already been budgeted for out of Council expenditure. He then proposed that this item of business be deferred from the Committee and a representative of the SEPP be invited to attend a meeting of the Car Parking Working Group to consider options for how the monies were spent. This proposal was duly seconded.
Councillor A S Fluker spoke about the total figure being within the Council’s budget and proposed that the Council’s application to the SEPP be submitted but that the £172,700 within the General Fund be ring-fenced for highways projects.
In response to discussion, the Director of Service Delivery clarified that the figure for repairs to car parking surfacing was included within the budget (capital receipts). However, the figures for a feasibility study and car park charging strategy were not and would effectively be new projects coming forward for Members’ consideration in the future.
Following further discussion Councillor S White proposed an amendment to the proposal from Councillor Siddall but this was not supported.
The Chairman then put the proposal in the name of Councillor Siddall to the Committee. Upon a vote being taken this was not agreed.
Councillor Fluker repeated his earlier proposition that the recommendations be agreed and ring-fence the surplus amount for funding future projects. Following further debate, the Chairman moved this proposal which was duly agreed.
(i) that the three projects detailed below are supported, and an application is submitted to the South Essex Parking Partnership to utilise the Operational Reserve to fund these projects, all of which fall within Section 55 of the Road Traffic Act 1984:
· Repairs to car park surfaces at Butt Lane and White Horse £137,500
· Feasibility study for a potential additional Car Park £28,000
· Delivery of a Car Park Charging Strategy £7,200
(ii) That the £137,500 currently within the Council’s budget be ring-fenced for funding future related projects.