Hartlepool councillors will continue to park for free

The underground parking at Hartlepool Civic Centre has 11 free bays for councillors.
The underground parking at Hartlepool Civic Centre has 11 free bays for councillors.

Councillors will continue to park for free at Hartlepool Civic Centre after a committee decided not to change the current system.

The council looked into parking arrangements that sees council staff have to pay while 11 bays are set aside for free for councillors attending meetings.

Independent councillor Jonathan Brash put forward a motion, which was passed at a full council meeting on February 26.

It called for staff to be given free parking or councillors to also pay.

But a report by Denise Ogden, the council’s director (regeneration and neighbourhoods) said it would cost more to manage a councillor parking charge scheme than it would be likely to make.

The council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee yesterday noted the report which recommended keeping staff charges at their current levels and that no charges are introduced for councillors’ bays at the civic centre.

Ms Ogden said it would also be difficult to calculate a comparative charge to that paid by officers which is based on their salary band level and calculated assuming they work full time five days a week for 46 weeks of the year.

She said: “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.”

Councillor Jonathan Brash said after the meeting: “Before the May election the Labour/Tory alliance in Hartlepool indicated their support in principle for my proposal to end the free parking subsidy for councillors.

“Now that the election is out of the way many of the same councillors have quietly voted to keep it after all.”

There are 300 parking bays for council staff close to council buildings generating around £80,000 a year in charges.

Staff who use the underground civic centre car park pay an additional £10 a month on top of the normal charge.