Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Council fees for parking, market stalls and more rising

A number of council services are getting more expensive next year

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Council fees for street trading stalls are one of many rising in April (credit: James Cracknell)

Fees for parking, market stalls, music lessons and sports facilities will go up in April as Waltham Forest Council works to close its budget gap.

The fee increases, which will hit in April, were agreed at a meeting of the full council last night and represent an increase of 3% or more.

The money earned from parking charges, which makes up more than half of the total £40million income from fees, will rise by £700,000 a year.

The council expects to overspend by around £13m this financial year but is confident it will be able to balance its budget thanks to its reserves.

Conservative councillor Emma Best expressed surprise one-to-one children’s music lessons were becoming more expensive, costing an extra £5 per 20 minutes, given council leader Grace William's commitment to putting children "at the heart of leadership".

Council leader Williams responded that the borough has to make sure it can afford to offer such services and that fees are only increasing where the “unit cost” is higher than the public currently pays.

She added: “Children's services are funded from grants, they are a statutory service funded by grants set by central Government. We have to make sure that what we offer, we can afford, and we have an excellent record at that.”

Businesses are set to see increases from 6% for parking permits or more for high emissions vehicles.

Council staff who drive to work will also have to cough up more, with permits rising from £250 to £300 a month for the most polluting cars, although a discount is being offered to staff who drive less.

Although most cemetery fees are increasing by less than 5%, a £1750 half-grave plot for ashes will be almost 50% more expensive.

A Waltham Forest spokesperson said: “The fees for some services are increasing as the council reviews its charges for the coming financial year to reflect inflation and increased costs.

“We have not increased all the budget income targets correspondingly, to help provide resilience for these services in the face of continuing uncertainty. 

“We work hard to deliver a wide range of reliable high-quality services, to ensure our people are rewarded fairly for their work, and act as responsible guardians of the public purse.

“We continuously benchmark the services we are delivering to help us achieve these aims.”