Hartlepool councillors to keep free parking – while staff continue to pay

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Councillors look set to continue to get free parking at Hartlepool’s Civic Centre as administering a charge would cost the council too much.

Hartlepool Borough Council has been looking into parking at the Civic Centre following a motion being put forward at the full council meeting on February 26.

The motion stated: “That either staff car parking charges be abolished or car parking charges be introduced for elected members,” while it also went on to ask the chair of the Neighbourhood Services Committee briefly explain the extent to which the council charges staff to park at work.

The current council staff car parking scheme provides over 300 car bays in a number of car parks close to council buildings, which generates £80,000 a year.

Due to these high levels of demand, officers with staff parking bays are required to be permanent employees and must be able to demonstrate an operational need for a parking space.

Parking bays are currently located in the Civic Centre underground car park with access to the car park being restricted by key fob controls. There are around 150 spaces of which 11 bays are available for use by councillors.

The current arrangement represents a compromise between retaining as many bays as possible for staff where there is a clear demand for spaces, and facilitating the needs of councillors through the ad hoc use of 11 parking spaces which is convenient for their attendance duties.

Should councillors decide to introduce an elected member parking scheme, the authority would have to allocate sufficient spaces for all elected members, potentially 33 bays.

A report by Denise Ogden, director (regeneration and neighbourhoods), stated: “Should a charge be introduced, it would also be difficult to calculate a comparative charge to that of officers. The officer charge rate is based upon the salary band level of the individual officer and has been calculated on an assumed full time working attendance of five days over 46 weeks.

“Any members charge would likely have to be set at a daily rate. On this basis it is difficult to ascertain how it would be charged and/or collected without a significant administrative burden likely to be beyond the value of that which is collected.”

Ms Ogden added: “Given the administrative burdens related to introducing elected member payments for car parking spaces, and the fact that the current scheme appears to be working well, it is recommended that no charges are introduced for members bays within the Civic Centre Car Park.” It will be discussed by the Neighbourhood Services Committee on Monday at 10am.