PARKING AND BEREAVEMENT CHARGES SET TO RISE, DESPITE COUNCIL UNCERTAINTY OVER ADDITIONAL INCOME

Wolverhampton residents will once again pay more for city centre parking and bereavement services, despite the shocking admission from council bosses that they have no idea how much additional income it will generate. 

The plans were unveiled in the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Fees and Charges Review 2019/20, its annual assessment of what residents have to pay for a wide range of council services. The increases will take effect from 1 December 2018.

But the council’s own report says that “additional income from increases in fees and charges is uncertain”, and admits that the resulting impact upon demand “cannot be predicted with certainty”. This comes just weeks after finance chiefs revealed they face a £6 million budget black hole in the council’s coffers in the current financial year alone.

Amongst the charges outlined in the report are new fees for parking at city centre car parks such as Tempest Street, Bell Street and Snow Hill. Users of the latter two car parks will have to fork out up to £8 a day, and market traders will be charged £3 a day for using their car park which was previously free of charge.

Cremation and burial charges are also set to increase by as much as £50 in some cases.

The city’s Conservative councillors branded the increases “another kick in the teeth by the Labour-run authority”, and accused Labour councillors of “a determination to drive down much-needed footfall in our city centre even further”.

Cllr Arun Photay, a Conservative councillor and Vice-Chair of the council’s Scrutiny Board, said: “Wolverhampton desperately needs more customers through the doors of our local businesses – and Labour’s plan is to sting shoppers just for the sake of it, by increasing car park fees. This is only going to further reduce footfall in our city centre. 

“Residents will be concerned to see that the council doesn’t even know how much extra revenue these increases will generate, particularly given the huge £6 million black hole in the authority’s finances and the £1 billion of debt. 

“Instead of punishing people who want to support their local High Street, a Conservative-run Wolverhampton Council would actually be encouraging more people into the city at weekends.”