Southend-on-Sea City Council’s cabinet is to consider an increase in fees and charges to tackle a large budget gap as part of its draft budget for 2023/24 (Cabinet item 6, Thursday 12 January 2023).
Most of the fees and charges contained within the council’s draft budget are proposed to increase by inflation of around 10% in 2023/24. Other specific changes include generating additional income by increasing pier charges, along with cremation and burial costs for non-residents. The combined income package is designed to help protect frontline services for the most vulnerable.
As part of this package, paid for parking sessions and permits will also see an inflationary increase, whilst the Southend Pass would be increased from £8.50 to £10 per month.
Charging hours along the Zone 1a parking area couldbe extended to 9pm. Enforcement hours will be increased to support these restrictions. Southend Pass Holders will be able to use their pass during these extended hours, but under the proposals, the Cliffs Pavilion and Shorefield Road car park will remain chargeable to 6pm only.
Other considerations include stopping free parking for councillors, and car parking charges could be introduced from 2024/25 in our four main parks for stays of over two hours to tackle the issue of commuters parking all day and to try to ensure genuine users of the parks are not inconvenienced. Any income generated by such charges will be re-invested into the City’s highway network.
The admission increases proposed for the Pier are estimated to raise an extra £250k, which will be invested into the maintenance of this major local tourist attraction. Cremation and burial charges are set to rise to similar levels around the region for non-residents of Southend-on-Sea.
Cllr Stephen George, leader of the council, said: “Council budgets nationwide have seen unprecedented pressures in recent years, combined with a 90% reduction in our main Government grant over the past ten years. This means that every year as a council we must become more financially self-sufficient and rely more heavily on income we can bring in locally.
“In addition to the government cuts, this year our residents have also experienced the cost-of-living crisis which has seen the demand for council support increase significantly. As a council we must continue to make tough decisions, whilst ensuring we have enough funding to support essential council services and support the most vulnerable in the City.
“Fees and charges make up an ever-increasing portion of the council's income, but we understand that our residents are also facing an increase in their cost-of-living, we have tried to balance these difficult choices and strive to provide value for money. By purchasing the Southend Pass for example, which makes parking around the City so much more convenient and offers exceptional value to our residents.”
The draft budget will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Thursday 12 January 2023, the council’s policy and resource scrutiny committee on Thursday 2 February, with the final budget to be discussed and approved at full council on Thursday 23 February.