Contact Officer: Phillip Hood
To note and comment on the proposals for Draft Fees and Charges for 2019/20.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement introduced and outlined the Draft Fees and Charges proposals for 2019/20. It was noted that this committee’s comments would be taken into account when the proposals were presented to Cabinet on 4th December.
The Chair invited the following members to speak regarding this item:-
Cllr P Harvey
Cllr A McCormick
Concern was voiced at the use of commuted sums for key services, increases to the household garden waste service, burial charges, hire of sports pitches and Centre Shuttle prices.
The committee made a range of comments on the following issues:-
There was comment that parking charges should not be raised by such a percentage because of the potential impact on visitor numbers. Some concern was voiced that raised parking charges would adversely affect those people that lived outside the town centre, and lead to a negative impact on town centre retailers and leisure facilities.
Concern was also raised that high charges were forcing car users on to local residential streets creating tensions between commuters and local residents.
There was comment that this fee appeared to be above inflation, and discussion regarding these increases rectifying longer-term under-charging which had led to an increase in demand creating pressures on the service.
Comment was made about increases to the Centre Shuttle fees being a deterrent to encouraging increased use.
Concerns were expressed that any further undermining of the Centre Shuttle service would exacerbate parking pressures in the Town Centre. Concern was also expressed that the Centre Shuttle did not feature in the New River proposals for the Retail Park.
Household Garden Waste
It was noted that this was a popular service amongst residents and some concern was voiced that higher costs may have an adverse effect on service take-up.
The impact of any reduction in the take up of this service due to increased charges will impact negatively on the already disappointinglylow recycling targets set for the Council.
S106 commuted sums
A comment was made that a proportion of this income had been integrated into the mainstream budget but had not been adequately reflected in the budget for environment and maintenance teams given the increased growth and requirements from new housing developments.
It was felt by members of the Committee that commuted sums were being appropriated to plug the resource gaps in the grounds maintenance and street care budgets.
The proposed budget did not reflect a necessary and required proportionate increase in staff numbers or service provision commensurate with growth and newly adopted areas relating to development.
A concern was voiced that raising charges for hire of sports playing fields would act as a deterrent to many and that the council should instead be actively encouraging activity. It was requested that analysis be conducted to ensure that increasing costs of sport provision would not lead to reduced participation.
The committee sought clarification and amendment on the following matters:-
Property Development Portfolio
· Increase of 3% to monthly rent for Attwood Close Mobile Home Car Park. It was suggested that the council had previously agreed when purchasing the land to maintain rents in line with that of social housing tenants. It was questioned whether the percentage increase was justifiable given the historical arrangements for the site.
Regulatory Services and Environment Portfolio
· It was noted that proportionately reduced rates for Household Garden Waste schemes were only applicable to this year as a new system was being introduced in 2019.
· The contradiction of a proposed charge of £315 for a new infant grave, as opposed to the assertion that ‘BDBC do not charge any fees for burials of children under the age of 3 years, or for the excavation of a grave space for a child under the age of 16 years’, was queried.
Communities and Community Safety Portfolio
· Rationale was sought for the decision to increase parking charges but not on-street penalty charge notices.
· It was requested that reference was included within the Centre Shuttle statistics to the current discounted 75p discretionary fare for students of Basingstoke College of Technology, and the impact to charging (if any), under the current proposals.
· It was observed that the majority of passengers using the Centre Shuttle Service after 9.30am were concessionary fare free pass users. Consequently, it was queried as to whether the increase to the Centre Shuttle fees would lead to more income from Hampshire County Council.
Housing and Regeneration Portfolio
· The decision to retain HMO license fees at their current rate was queried.
Resolved: The Committee
· Note the report;
· Request clarification from the Cabinet Member for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement on the above issues;
· Will compile a summary briefing note of views and comments on the Draft Fees and Charges Report 2019/20 agreed by the Chair and Vice-Chair for submission to Cabinet; and
· Request that Cabinet consider the above views in relation to the proposed Draft Fees and Charges 2019/20.