Friday March 31st 2023
Charges for school meals, allotments, planning applications and hiring sports facilities in Edinburgh are all set to rise.
Edinburgh Council’s fees and charges have been agreed for the year ahead – with the biggest shock a 20 per cent rise in on-street parking, which will be used to fund a freeze on the cost of services used by the city’s “most vulnerable” residents.
Most charges will rise by around 11.1% in line with inflation, including those for school meals, allotments, licences, planning applications and filming in parks.
The price of hiring football pitches and school sports facilities will be increased by around five per cent, after rates for 2023/24 were set by councillors.
The finance committee had to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to agree the charges as a result of the Labour administration’s failure to pass a budget last month.
Plans by the SNP and Greens to raise on-street parking fees by 20% – four per cent higher than was proposed by Labour – were narrowly passed by five votes to four after Tory councillors abstained from voting.
A joint amendment tabled by the two groups said this would generate an additional £800,000 to offset price hikes for adult burial charges, garden aid, day care for elderly and disabled people, library charges and the telecare service which gives social care users quick access to support.
Lesley Macinnes, SNP finance spokesperson, said the move was designed to “provide support to those vulnerable parts of our society who need it”.
She said: “The level of worry that we can take away that sit in that category in our society will be enormous if we can turn round and say to them ‘for this year you don’t need to worry about any price increases on that’.
“That is a gift to people who are in a vulnerable state.”
However, Councillor Mandy Watt, Labour finance convener, hit back at the suggestion and said lifting parking charges would “price people out of accessing the same facilities that everybody else has the opportunity to use”.
She said: “When you put in massive parking charges…what you’re effectively doing is saying only very well-off people should be able to have and use cars.”
Added to the £1.19m the new fees and charges will bring in for the council, the estimated £800k from higher parking prices will also be used to waive fines for overdue library books and launch a £100k fund to support community cultural organisations hire out rooms in council buildings.
Usually fees and charges are set alongside the rest of the budget, however as they were only contained within the Labour administration motion – and not the agreed Lib Dem budget which passed unexpectedly – councillors had to hold a special finance committee to agree the new rates.
Discussions between finance officers and the Lib Dems following the chaotic meeting last month saw the group propose a broad 11.1% increase in line with inflation, up from the 5% which was proposed by Labour.
Council finance chief Hugh Dunn told councillors: “Normally the administration budget motion gets approved and there’s a fees and charges behind that.
“The administration motion not getting passed hadn’t happened before, so maybe we should have thought about that, but I don’t think we had the time to do that.”
The revised parking charges, which will take effect from April 3, mean city centre on-street parking will be lifted from £5.60 per hour to £6.70.
In Stafford St and Melville St area, Morrison St to Shandwick Place and the Old Town including East Market St, the rate will increase from £4.90 to £5.90. The West End, Moray Place, South Side/Nicholson St, Tollcross/Fountainbridge and Heriot Row will see hourly parking fees rise from £4.10 to £4.90.
To park in the New Town will cost motorists a new rate of £4.40 an hour, up from £3.70 and South Queensferry will also have charges hiked by 20% – jumping from £0.90 to £1.10.
In Bruntsfield, Sciennes, St Leonard’s, Dumbiedykes, Stockbridge and Dean, on-street parking charges will go up from £3.10 to £3.40 – a lower increase of 9.68%. Parking permits for residents will increase by between 11 and 15 per cent.
The city’s transport leader, Scott Arthur warned that the rise may not actually raise as much income as predicted – as it could deter people from parking in the city.
“I think they got this wrong,” he wrote on Twitter after the meeting, “Labour estimated the limit was 16%, and beyond that income would start to fall… and Edinburgh is hooked on parking income.”Tweet Share on Facebook