COUNCILLORS have approved plans to revise parking charges to help local businesses after a public backlash.

A cabinet paper discussed by senior councillors this week noted the local authority’s changed position on the charges after “significant concerns” were raised by members of the public.

Sandwell Council wished to raise an annual five day season ticket in West Bromwich from £800 in 2023 to £1,200 by 2027 – a 50 per cent increase.

Public backlash, however, has forced the council to withdraw parking charge increases in 2026 and 2027.

The local authority instead suggest they will authorise a review into the charges in 2025, adding they will “either confirm that the increases scheduled for 2025 will continue at that level, or require public consultation on increased rates for 2026 and 2027 to inform a further report to cabinet for decision”.

The council are also considering mitigations for “any employees that are identified as being impacted to a significantly greater extent than others due to the requirements of their job” with particular reference to those employed at Sandwell Children’s Trust.

Councillor Danny Millward, cabinet member for environment, said: “This committee report provides an assessment of the additional considerations that arose from the public consultation, with recommendations to discuss the proposed fees and charges and mitigate the impact in response to those representations.

“I want everyone to know that decision wasn’t taken lightly. He was debated and discussed on many occasions, and that’s one of the reasons why we have the additional revised parking charges for Sundays, Christmas and the 30 minute option.”

Last year, the council held a public consultation from August 2022 to September 2022 on whether to increase car parking charges in the borough.

116 objections were received by the council and two emails in support of the new charges. A separate petition by West Bromwich East MP Nicola Richards received 464 signatures.

The council claimed the reason for the proposed increase in parking charges was to help reduce congestion in town centres, reduce carbon emissions, and “facilitate more working from home, walking and cycling for short journeys and journeys to work”.

In the original paper, the council said the revised charges were designed to help encourage more people to “choose alternatives ways to travel, making healthier habits easier and making sure the road networks are ready to respond to future increases in demand”.

But buried in the same report the council admitted inflation, a lack of revenue due to the pandemic, and workers’ preference to work from home, have resulted in a parking account deficit of £321,700.

Without this income, the council say they will unable to maintain the car parks and further highway maintenance.

It states: “In the past, any surplus on the parking account have [sic] been allocated in accordance with statutory requirements. However, the sustained increase in working from home following the pandemic has reduced parking income well below the levels needed to fund this service.

“In these circumstances, available service budgets are not sufficient to maintain normal levels of statutory services also because of the increased costs arising from post-pandemic price inflation.”

Sandwell has a population of 420,000 people. Approximately 130,000 cars and vans are registered in Sandwell. There are 3,059 council operated car parking spaces in the borough with charges applied on 2,798 spaces.