Revealed: Welwyn Hatfield Council’s 550 staff and members get free parking

PUBLISHED: 15:36 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:07 12 January 2018

Campus East Lower car park

Campus East Lower car park

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield Council has been branded “disgusting” after it emerged that over 500 of its staff get free parking in WGC.

The local authority’s 506 officers, as well as its 48 elected councillors, all have free parking Monday to Friday at the Hunters Bridge, Campus West and Campus East Lower sites.

“It’s a joke,” said Lisa Kennelly, who works at H. Samuel in The Howard Centre. “That’s completely unfair it should be either everyone pays or no-one does.”

Panshanger’s Derek Williams, who was previously a Sven-Göran Eriksson double, said: “It seems like it’s looking after their boys and we are going to be paying the price for it.

“I think they should be paying for their parking like everyone else.”

Campus West car park. Campus West car park.

Recent figures showed WHC scooped nearly £9million from parking in the last five financial years – including around £1.5million through its three sites’ income in 2016/17.

Panshanger resident Eileen Brimmell said she felt it was “morally wrong” that residents were being asked to pay more council tax, as well as a brown bins levy, while councillors and officers got free parking.

She added: “Why should they get it for free? They are paid fully to do a job and so they should pay like we do. Let them pay for parking and not put the council tax up.”

Annual permits at the car parks usually cost around £900, but not all staff would necessarily pay as some are not based in WGC, while others could use alternative commuting methods.

Lisa Kennelly, Jessica Winter and Penina Collins Lisa Kennelly, Jessica Winter and Penina Collins

Haldens resident John Stevens branded the council “disgusting”, and said: “It’s outrageous that they get it free, they should pay for their parking when they go to work like anyone else.”

A couple of residents claimed that at the very least they should be paying a discounted price.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council, like other employers, offers its staff and members free parking in the town centre when they are working or on council business.

“For a large number of our teams, using their cars is the only way of delivering essential local services in our communities such as food hygiene inspections, carrying out work on trees, or visits with vulnerable and elderly residents.

Derek Williams. Derek Williams.

“If they chose not to come by car because of parking costs, we would be required to provide them with transport to keep those services going, which would inevitably be more costly.”

She added: “It is also the case that recruiting staff is becoming increasingly challenging where higher salaries are on offer for comparable roles in the private sector.

“When council staff, along with others in the public and private sectors, have faced salary freezes or pay increases below inflation for many years, free parking is one small way we can help continue to attract the people our communities rely upon to deliver much-valued services locally.”

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