Boston Borough Council has limited means to raise money to pay for the services it provides, and, in the current difficult financial climate, balancing revenue with expenditure becomes harder and harder.
Cash the council receives from the Government continues to reduce and some functions previously performed by Government have become the council’s responsibility, again, with reduced funding. Council tax support is a recent example. These are all difficult issues for the council to deal with and reflective of the times of austerity we now find ourselves in.
Money raised from the provision of council-run car parking spaces in Boston is important. It would be brilliant if we could do as some have suggested, and make all parking free. Nothing would please us more. But more than £1 million a year in lost revenue says we cannot. There is simply not the means to make up that amount of money, and I am sure we would be heavily criticised however we tried to make up that sort of shortfall.
Those who do not use the car parks would, justifiably, complain if they were asked to subsidise the car parks and help make up the difference by an increase in other charges, or in their council tax. The fact is the money would have to be found from somewhere.
No one can be blamed for wanting to park for free, but the fact is that any revenue lost to the council has to be found, more so now than at any other time.
Car parking charges in Boston are reasonable, comparable and, in some instances, cheaper than in neighbouring towns. You can park for up to two hours for just 60p in nine out of 11 of our long-stay car parks, and £2.50 for all-day parking in the same car parks. These are reasonable charges.
Some towns quoted as providing free parking do so because these are not council-owned car parks but run by stores and supermarkets, much in the same way as, in Boston, parking at Asda, Tesco and Currys and Downtown is free to their customers.
Car parking revenue has to be raised to pay for the maintenance of our car parks. This also applies the principle of the user pays. It would be unfair to ask residents who do not own cars to pay to subsidise the car parks.
I am always willing to receive constructive comment and realistic suggestions which can lead to better ways of tackling these problems. As a lifelong Bostonian I am passionate about the town and want to see Boston prosper and succeed and be a place where people want to live, work and visit. It has never been my intention to be unjust or unfair to any part of the population, but these are difficult and challenging times we live in, which sometimes call for unpopular decisions to be made.
Finally, can I clarify what some may have misunderstood from a casual reading of The Standard’s street bills and front page heading and strapline last week. There is absolutely no intention to sell condoms AND town maps from machines placed in car parks around Boston. These machines would be town map and guide dispensing machines only, in the same way that machines which dispense cigarettes, chewing gum or chocolate are not also condom dispensing machines.
Coun Derek Richmond
Town centre portfolio holder, Boston Borough Council
EDITOR’S NOTE: At no point in our front page do we suggest that both maps and condoms would be sold together. Direct reference is made to maps being sold from condom machines because Boston Business Improvement District (BID) believes these are the only dispensers which are the correct size – they even intend to borrow one for testing from a local pub.