Inflation rise forces Brentwood Council fees and charges rethink

Increases in Brentwood Borough Council’s fees and charges – including parking – could be higher than initially planned due to spiralling inflation.

The borough council had planned to increase fees and charges by 1.9 per cent next year covering all aspects of council activity, such as parking and playing fields.

But those plans have now been sent back for further analysis by the council’s finance team with inflation now well above that, and by Spring it maybe as high as five per cent.

Fees that are set to increase include golfing charges, playing field and bowling green hire, burger vans and other types of community events pitches.

On Monday (December 6), the authority’s Community and Health Committee deferred increasing these fees to a later date.

Last week its policy, resources and economic development committee deferred plans to increase parking, committee room hire and wedding fees by 1.9 per cent.

The higher rates of inflation, if passed back to residents, means residents may be expected to pay considerably more for parking than the council had originally planned.

Initial drafts had a one hour stay at William Hunter Way car park increasing from £1 to £1.10 and a two hour stay from £2 to £2.20. A six hour stay had initially been planned to increase from £8 to £8.20.

These charges for 2022/2023 are now being re-reviewed.

Likewise, instead of an increase from £752 to £767 for a annual season ticket for Hartswood Golf Course, a £15 uplift, golfers may have to expect to have to pay an extra £38 if a five per cent uplift is added.

Hiring a pitch and pavilion every other Sunday for a season at King Georges and Warley playing fields will cost an extra £54 if a five per cent uplift is added to that cost, £33 more than had been initially budgeted.

Councillor Cliff Poppy, the committee’s chairman, said on Monday (December 6): “I just don’t like the idea of just upping every fee 1.9 per cent because that’s what inflation was a few weeks ago and I think that inflation’s higher than that.”

In November the Office for National Statistics reported CPI had risen 4.2 per cent over the year to October – almost double the Bank of England’s two per cent target and the highest in a decade.

But now Inflation looks set to “comfortably” exceed five per cent next spring given the likely energy bill hike for millions of households expected at that point, Ben Broadbent the Bank of England’s deputy governor said.

Mr Broadbent added that the country’s tight labour market is also likely to be a more persistent source of inflation.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter