Your Council Tax is £0 – finding a value for a parking space

A young man in an inexpensive suit knocks on a door in John Street.  The householder answers.

Man in suit: Good morning.  Are you concerned about the cost of your monthly bills?  Would you like to save £132 a month?
Householder: Ah, yes.  Are you from the electricity company?
Man: I’m from the City Council.  If you give me your residents’ parking permit then we will pay your Council Tax, that’s a saving of £1593 a year! Sign here and save money right away.
Householder: But where will I put my car?
Man: We have a special offer on, if you sign up now I can give you free membership of the car club and two thousand driving miles.

After listening to the Freakonomics podcast Parking is Hell I began to wonder about the price of car parking in Cambridge city centre.  The podcast describes that in some cities a significant proportion of cars are cruising for parking and not actually going anywhere.  Economists and academics have suggested that the price for parking can be adjusted to ensure there is always one or two empty spaces so there is no wasteful cruising for parking and drivers find parking more easily. A project called SF park is trying this out in San Francisco.

If you ask people what they want in a suitcase they say ‘lighter’ but even a light suitcase filled with 15kg of clothes is still hard to move. The solution was adding wheels to make the suitcase easy to move. The moral is listen to people’s problems and think laterally about solutions.

In the Kite area of Cambridge there are continual moans that there are not enough residents’ parking spaces and yet there is anecdotal evidence that many of these parked cars don’t move from one day to the next or sometimes week to week. Local politicians seem keen on providing more spaces too [Source: Market Liberal Democrats newsletter April 2013]. Although people are asking for more parking spaces I’m not sure that this is actually what they want, here’s why:

  • 30 parking spaces + 0 free spaces = unhappy resident 😦
  • 50 parking spaces + 0 free spaces = unhappy resident 😦
  • 29 parking spaces + 1 free space = happy resident 🙂

Perhaps the price for this value resource isn’t right? Perhaps some people would respond to a financial incentive to give up their permission to park so there is room for others? But what is the value of this (notional) parking space?

What is the value of this parking space?

What is the value of this parking space?

In my post on city centre parking prices we saw that residents are charged £0.11 for all day parking whereas parking in the Grafton East car park would cost £24 for the same period – quite a difference! At £24 per day a residents’ parking permit would cost over £8,000 per annum, wow! But that comparison is too simple because the car parks do not have a utilization of 100% and you might expect a discount for bulk buying a year’s parking, etc.

Cambridge City Council got a revenue of £1,574 per annum per space in the Grafton East car park and more than £2,000 per space in the Adam and Eve Street car park in 2011/12 [Source: Cambridge City Council, response to Freedom of Information request 2142].  So theoretically the City Council could change residents’ parking spaces in to on-street pay and display spaces and receive an additional income of £1,500 per annum. The Band D Council Tax for 2012/13 is £1,512. Hmm.

Would you give up your residents’ parking permit in return for paying no Council Tax?

Advertisements

Park for just 2p in the city centre

Yes it’s true you can park for two hours for just 2p and all day for 11p right next to the Grafton Centre in Cambridge.  Did you think parking was expensive?  Perhaps you are looking in the wrong place.

If you want to park near the Grafton Centre you have nine options:

City centre parking locations. © OpenStreetMap contributors

Parking locations near the Grafton Centre. © OpenStreetMap contributors

And the prices for Saturday daytime are:

Free spaces (subjective) Price for 2 hours Price for all day
1. City Road residents’ bay Low £0.02 £0.11
2. East Road rented garage Unknown £0.13 £1.53
3. City Road residents’ bay (visitor) Low £1.80 £1.80
4. Norfolk Street on-street Moderate £2.00
5. Park and Ride High £2.60 £2.60
6. Adam and Eve Street car park Moderate £3.60
7. Grafton East car park Low £4.30 £24.00
8. New Square double yellow lines Moderate £25.00 £25.00
9. Maids Causeway cycle lane High £35.00 £35.00

City centre parking price chart 4
In my next post I will look at what this could mean for city centre residents.

City Road residents’ bay

Residents' parking bay on City Road

Residents’ parking bay on City Road

If you are eligible for a residents’ parking permit the cost is £81 per year and the bays operate 9am8pm seven days a week. Residents can also get an indefinite number of visitors’ permits for £8 for five allowing parking in residents’ bays for one day for one vehicle.  Neither a residents’ or visitors’ permit guarantees a space however.

East Road rented garage

East Road rented garages

East Road rented garages

If you are prepared to plan ahead and pay for four weeks the City Council will rent you a garage from £8.91 per week plus VAT, assuming there is a space available.  I haven’t been able to find any information on current occupancy.

Park and Ride

Grafton Centre Park and Ride stops

Grafton Centre Park and Ride stops

Parking at the sites on the edges of the city is free and the bus fare is £2.60 for the cheapest return fair for one adult (who can take children with them).

Adam and Eve Street car park

Adam and Eve Street car park

Adam and Eve Street car park

This is a short stay car park so you cannot park here all day.

Grafton East car park

Grafton East car park entrance

Grafton East car park entrance

This is the most expensive of the legal options but there is no shortage of demand with queues outside and one-out-one-in operating at some times of the day.

New Square double yellow lines

New Square

New Square

Unless you have a Blue Badge parking here is illegal.  Civil enforcement officers regularly check this area and you will get a ticket that costs £25 if paid quickly, or the same as all day parking at Grafton East car park!

Please do not park when and where parking restrictions are in force, it is illegal, inconsiderate and can block access for emergency vehicles.

Maids Causeway cycle lane

Maids Causeway cycle lane

Maids Causeway cycle lane

Parking here is illegal and the police could issue you with a Fixed Penalty Notice that costs £35 if paid quickly.  However it’s also likely that the police would not see the illegally parked vehicle or take any action if they did, so the cost could also be £0.

Please do not park in cycle lanes, it is illegal, inconsiderate and can cause danger for cyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles.

Norfolk Street on-street

Norfolk Street pay and display parking bay

Norfolk Street pay and display parking bay

There are a few pay and display parking bays at 50p for 30 minutes, maximum stay of two hours.