Parking fees and charges consultation

Proposed changes to car park charges, 2021

Consultation closed: Sunday 14 November 2021
Consultation opened: Monday 23 August 2021

The proposed changes to car park charges will apply to 14 council-owned car parks across Central Bedfordshire, these are mostly in Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard. View individual car park charges.

Dunstable car parks:

  • Ashton Square
  • Grove Park
  • Matthew Street
  • Priory Gardens
  • Regent Street
  • St. Mary's Gate
  • West Street
  • Westfield Road

Flitwick car park:

  • Steppingley Road

Leighton Buzzard car parks:

  • Baker Street
  • Duncombe Drive
  • Hockliffe Street
  • West Street (multi-storey)
  • New Road

Our market town centres are struggling due to the decline of retail and the challenges of COVID-19.

We understand residents and businesses will be concerned about increases to car parking charges and the potential impact on businesses and the vibrancy of local town centres. The economic success of a local area cannot only be attributed to the cost of car parking. Other issues such as availability of public transport, level of car ownership in the local population, changes in shopping behaviour are also important factors.

To help bring people back into town centres, boost footfall and create vibrant centres, we are encouraging local independent businesses to locate to our market towns, provide flexible, affordable workspaces in town centres which are available to small businesses and start-ups, as well as people working from home and reviewing public transport provision.

To support town centre businesses further, we are proposing:

  • not to increase charges for business/employee permits
  • not to increase charges for market trader permits
  • not to charge for parking after 6pm every day
  • not to charge for parking all day on a Sunday in open-air car parks (unfortunately, we do need to charge for multi-storey car parks in order to cover the costs of having the car park open)
  • not to increase parking charges for 30-minute stays at Grove Park car park, this will remain at 50 pence

Below are the proposed new car parking charges. The charge for a 30-minute stay is not changing, hourly charges will go up by 50 pence and the weekly charge will increase by £2.50.

Tariffs and the proposed changes
Car park tariffs Current fees and charges – 2020 to 2021 Proposed fees and charges – 2021 to 2022 Proposed change
Up to 30 minutes (Grove Park) £0.50 £0.50 £0
Up to 1 hour £1 £1.50 £0.50

Up to 2 hours

  • Ashton Square
  • Matthew Street
  • St. Mary’s Gate
  • Duncombe Drive
£1 £1.50 £0.50

Up to 2 hours

  • Grove Park
  • Priory Gardens
  • Regent Street
  • Hockliffe Street
  • West Street (multi-storey)
£1.50 £2 £0.50
Up to 3 hours £2 £2.50 £0.50
Up to 5 hours £3.50 £4 £0.50
Up to 10 hours £6.50 £7 £0.50
Up to 12 hours (multi-storey car park only) £6.50 £6.50 £0
Sunday (multistorey car park only) £2 £2 £0
Weekly £15 £17.50 £2.50
Motorcyclists Free in marked bays Free in marked bays £0
Disabled Free in marked bays Free in marked bays £0

As well as receiving feedback on these specific proposals, we are interested in exploring other ideas and suggestions that we could introduce which would have minimal impact in terms of reduced income to us, but could be beneficial for residents and businesses. For example, we could reduce the hours we charge for car parking – the current charging hours are from 8am to 6pm (Monday to Saturday) but this could be reduced to 9am to 5pm (Monday to Saturday).

We currently provide free parking from 1:30pm on a Tuesday in Ashton Square car park in Dunstable, and on a Wednesday in Duncombe Drive car park in Leighton Buzzard from 1:30pm. We don’t have any plans to change this at the moment, but they could consider ideas put forward in the consultation feedback.

Steppingley Road Car Park

The car park at Steppingley Road in Flitwick is adjacent to the train station and is primarily used by commuters. It, therefore, has a different tariff which is comparable to the train station car parking charges. The proposed changes are provided below.

Steppingley Road Car Park proposed changes
Duration Current fees and charges – 2021 to 2022 Proposed fees and charges – 2022 to 2023 Proposed change
Daily £5 £5.50 £0.50
Weekly £25 £27.50 £2.50
Weekend £1 £1.50 £0.50

Market traders, employee and business permits

To minimise the impact on businesses, we're not proposing to change the charges for market traders, employee, or business permits.

Market traders permits proposed changes
Duration Current fees and charges – 2021 to 2022 Proposed fees and charges – 2022 to 2023 Proposed change
1 day £3.50 £3.50 £0
12 months £64 £64 £0
Employee and business permits proposed changes
Duration Current fees and charges – 2021 to 2022 Proposed fees and charges – 2022 to 2023 Proposed change
1 month £52 £52 £0
3 months £129 £129 £0
12 months £386 £386 £0

Proposed changes to residents' parking zones charges

We operate 20 residents' parking zones across Central Bedfordshire. These zones allow eligible residents to purchase an annual permit, for up to three cars, to park in their residential area. 

There is continued demand from residents to implement new zones and restrictions to address local parking issues. The fee charged for permits does not cover the costs of implementation and maintaining residents' parking zones and the cost of permits was not increased in 2017. 

Below are the proposed changes to the residents' parking zone charges.

Residents' parking zones proposed changes
Number of cars Current fees and charges – 2021 to 2022 Proposed fees and charges – 2022 to 2023 Proposed change
First car £10 £35 £25
Second car £70 £70 £0
Third car £90 £90 £0
Residents' visitor permits proposed changes
Number of permits Current fees and charges – 2021 to 2022 Proposed fees and charges – 2022 to 2023 Proposed change
10 visitor sessions £12 £22 £10
Book of 25 £30 £35 £5
Carer permit £0 £0 £0

How the income is used

We receive around £1.76 million annually from parking. The income is derived from charging for parking in our owned and managed car parks, parking restriction enforcement (parking tickets) and residential parking permit schemes. Each year, in October, we publish an annual report showing the income from these parking services and the cost of running the services. The last published annual report for 2019/20, based on actual income and expenditure, shows that overall we received £611,517 more income than it cost to provide the service.

Any surplus income, once costs are deducted, from parking enforcement of on-street parking and income from on-street resident parking zones can only be spent on highways-related work. For 2020/21, we received £355,000 from these activities but it cost us £700,000 to run these services.

Income from charging for parking in our owned and managed car parks is not restricted (or ringfenced) in the same way and can be used to fund any of our services.

We're always looking at how services can be more efficient and reduce the running costs. Parking services are no different. In 2017, pay and display machines for all our owned car parks improved our efficiency. The additional income from increasing the charges as proposed for 2022/23 will be invested in further improvements such as the use of automated number plate recognition (ANPR) vehicles which will improve efficiency and improve road safety. We will also use the money for new cameras to monitor road safety.

Some of the services we provide, like services to support vulnerable adults and children, are costly and are under increasing demand. As described above, parking enforcement and residents' parking zones cost more to run than the income received. Any additional funding we make in car parking income, or through efficiencies, goes towards off-setting some of these costs and limits the need to increase Council Tax. We aim to contribute £300,000 to our budget from the changes to car parking charges.