Councillors should give up parking perks to plug cut in home-to-school transport, say Greens

Photo credit: the Local Data Company
Green amendments identify £30k from scrapping Councillors’ free car parking spaces across the city

Greens are calling on Councillors from all parties to give up their free parking spaces, saying the money saved could be used to protect home-to-school transport for disabled children.

An amendment from the Greens to the budget meeting on Thursday (22nd Feb) will call on the Council to stop providing free parking to Councillors, who are currently able to use spaces in a city centre and Hove car park at no cost. The Council could stand to save £30k a year if Councillors were prepared to take alternative forms of transport, money Greens say should go back into public services.

The Green amendment proposes this money be used to lessen a planned cut to school transport, a service provided for children who need assistance getting to school.

Councillor Pete West commented:

“It is a highly inappropriate use of public funds to offer free premium parking in commercial car parks to Councillors. The hard pressed working families Councillors are elected to serve will be dismayed. Both town hall car parks are in city central areas, where air quality from traffic pollution is poor. Yet both town halls are well served by public transport and easily accessible by bike and on foot. Free car parking for Councillors is a snub to staff and residents who are already travelling sustainably and are concerned by the health impact of air pollution. It does nothing for staff morale to see Councillors treated with arcane privilege.

“Councillors are rightly entitled to claim for travel expenses they incur as part of their work. Their work requires travel to many places across the city, not just to the two town halls. The option of a bus pass is more than adequate, both in supporting sustainable travel and in sensibly cutting down on the administrative cost of processing travel expense claims. This is not a huge change for Councillors yet will produce a genuine result for communities, and it’s hugely hypocritical of Labour that we’re looking at cutting services for the many and keeping these perks for the few.”

The Council’s own assessment on the impact of home-to-school transport stated that any cuts “may result in some pupils no longer being identified as eligible – or required to provide a contribution to the cost of providing assistance.”  [1]

Greens are also hoping the proposals will encourage Councillors to favour alternatives to car use such as cycling or taking public transport. An additional amendment from the Greens will see a boost to the city’s cycle parking facilities in a bid to encourage a greater use of sustainable transport and minimise poor air quality in the city.

Councillor Alex Phillips added:

“With the Labour Council looking to find £15m of cuts in their budget this year yet again the axe will fall on services that assist those on the lowest incomes or who are in need of extra support. I was shocked to learn that the budget for keeping car parking free for Councillors amounts to £30k when there are other transport options available. That money could be used to lessen the impact of budget cuts – not to support Councillors to drive to work in a city blighted by air pollution and well served by public transport.

“Of course where Councillors have additional needs they should be supported with their own transport but for those who don’t – our proposal is that they give up an unnecessary parking perk to boost the budget for home-to-school transport for some of our city’s most disadvantaged children. 354 children use this service. It will be revealing to see who protests against this amendment after words from both the Labour and Conservative Councillors about ‘putting the city first.”

Greens will put forward a series of amendments to this year’s budget with over £2m found through their proposals, with a vote due at budget council tomorrow Thursday 22nd Feb.

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