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kevinjohnsonmbe

Liverpool City Council propose charging for Park use

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Liverpool City Council propose charging for Park use, not recreational use, but where a business (apparently this has exploded with the growth of the gig economy) utilises the public open green spaces for business purposes eg. contract dog walking, personal/group trainer, artist classes, professional photography to name but a few......

 

(Coincidentally there there are some youtube vids I watched recently of this process in effect in the States, it didn't really go that smoothly....) 

 

Chummy from LCC (Steve Mundy) on the news this morning actually said "...we'll have to suck it and see..." [if it is workable / viable......] 

 

Hardly instils the highest level of confidence in the financial and strategic management of a 2016/17 audited revenue budget of £417m, and oddly, the term "suck it and see" doesn't appear to feature anywhere in the Statement of Accounts 2016/17?  There's lots of high sounding management speak but no reference to "suck it and see."  Odd?

 

Interested in people's thoughts on this.  Should those that make a profit or deliver a business function by utilising public parks be expected to contribute to their upkeep?

 

A couple of quick calc's and thoughts which follow on from Mr Mundy's rather poor performance on national TV this morning:

 

He suggested something like, maybe £150/pa licence for a small operation (maybe like a dog walker / personal trainer) £300 to land a helicopter, and much more for a concert.  It was all a bit sketchy which is probably where the suck it and see strategy(?) came from....

 

Run those possibilities through the 'reality check calculator'....

 

Assume, in order to administer licensing, police and enforce the requirement, there would be the equivalent of 1 person's work per year.  

Assume, that person would have a salary of £25k and a public sector capitation rate +/- £33.3k

Assume it was only SME/ sole traders that were operating in the park (the number of helicopter landings and large concerts would be easy to calculate from record after all since I would imagine they are not every day occurrences) they would need to "sell" 220 SME/Sole Trader licences a year just to break even!

 

Call me Mr Picky, but I would have hoped that before such a scheme was considered there would have been some data to support the supposition that they even have 220 businesses operating in the park in the first place.  If not, then this is just a blatant example of the "system" creating a "requirement" for no other reason than a lame attempt to justify it's own existence - the classic self licking lollipop! 

    

If he'd fronted up and said "...we can generate X amount of net income from this (and it will be ring-fenced into this cost-centre) because there are Y number of operators and our cost to deliver would be Z..."  I could possibly see the potential to generate funds which could contribute to the management, maintenance and progressive development costs for valuable public resource (the parks)..."  Although, fundamentally, why 'business' should be shouldered with the burden of another tax I would probably struggle to reconcile.....  

 

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I'll have a quick go with ya, Mr Johnson.

 

I think it's a rubbish idea, but, you did realise there would be a but?

 

This is one of the main reason that the gig economy, and so many people being self employed is a bad idea. We pay less tax, wether that is because a lot in the gig economy are paid in cash or only making shit money or self employed using perfectly legal ways to avoid paying tax I'm not sure. And was what I clumsily tried to point out last night.

 

My point is, if we want public places to be maintained so that we can all enjoy them they need paying for. Government, after government keep telling us that we haven't got a pot to piss In, or a window to chuck it out of.

 

Now, we are both fully aware that councils, from grass roots right upto the top don't waste tax payers money so we have to pay more tax. What ya think?

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I think that it would be difficult to enforce.  When it comes to park usage, I'm fairly sure that rock concerts etc pay a fairly hefty bill for the hire of the park.   I think that anyone who is using a park for business purposes which prevent people from otherwise enjoying the park, should have to pay for the use of it.  I don't think a personal trainer, or a musician or dog walker etc should have to pay for using our recreational spaces.

 

Many of our parks were restored through grants from the heritage lottery scheme.  This restoration made them more desirable places to be.  The Councils budgets are squeezed, and they just can't afford the upkeep.

The Government should be providing funds for the upkeep of our green spaces.  Relying on 'Friends of...' groups isn't sustainable.  The way things are funded could do with a reassesment too.  It is often easier to get money to build a new path than it is to get the funds to maintain an existing one.

Edited by Mark J

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Agree with both of you!  Of a fashion (no buts!!!!:D)

 

Regarding the gig economy, and I know you'll appreciate this Mr E, I regard the biggest 'pain' from lower tax receipts into the exchequer to be generated from big industry (BBC, Google, Uber, UPS, Amazon etc) rather than SMEs who I think of as industrious, minor entrepreneurs who, even combined, would come nowhere near the negative impact on tax revenue as the big hitters.  

 

A quick diversion - even the MoD is in on the scam arriving late to the party in typical civil service fashion.  Mrs J having resigned, is now recruited back as a consultant under, wait for it, IR35 Off-payroll working through an intermediary scheme.  That's right!  It's a recognised and endorsed HMRC method of outsourcing workers to self employed status so as to reduce capitation rates for the employer and simultaneously reduce tax take to the exchequer.  Who'd have thunk it?  Appreciated the opportunity to rage at HMRC last night by the way :D

 

Pot and window scenario....  Yeah, they keep saying it whilst constantly p*ssing what they do get up the wall (local, regional and national level.)  I'll have to listen to the Ward councillor dribbling on about Cornwall council's financial woes on Wednesday night.  He can stand-by, got a few left hooks lined up for him!  I can't digest sob stories whilst I'm seeing unrestricted waste and incompetence.  The NHS is another case in point, we have a constant tirade of sob stories and blaming the lack of money but some of the stories of financial mismanagement and misappropriation are truly staggering.  Regardless of the individual ideological stand (some may think Trident inappropriate, just as others might think foreign aid inappropriate - equal measure to all for purpose of this anti tax rant) Stop the waste before trying to dig in my pocket.

 

Government funding for parks, agree Mark.  That's where it all seems to be going wrong, there should be government funding for so many things - libraries, schools, police, NHS, social care.   The list is almost endless, the available funds (within budget) however are not.  

 

Tories bad for attempting to stay within budget

Labour good for spending beyond budget

 

How do we sort that out?  I'm part way through trying to digest the latest 25 year environmental plan:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/25-year-environment-plan

 

Will be interesting to see what (if anything) that changes.

 

As you mention, 'policing' the licensing of business use of parks - really difficult which is why I'm sceptical that any net £ gain would be achieved.  If we're to believe that LAs have had staff cut to the bone, it would be reasonable to assume that this function could not be added to an already overstretched staff terms of reference - so there must be a new staff role.  If there's a new staff role there'll be costs attached.  Will that cost be exceeded by at least double, gusting treble, the cost of doing it?  If not, it makes little business sense to do it and will be interpreted (certainly by me) as just another admin / finance burden being placed upon those that are at least 'having a go' at making a crust.   

 

Nothing to desperately disagree with in either of your posts :thumbup1:

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40 minutes ago, Mark J said:

I think that anyone who is using a park for business purposes which prevent people from otherwise enjoying the park, should have to pay for the use of it. 

So do I  but mostly I'd prefer that public open spaces were not used for such things but rather for quiet enjoyment.

 

As an aside many pieces of common land which were acquired when local authorities took on the manorial wastes have were not registered and thus the protection offered them were lost so people cannot benefit from the various commons acts which granted them the right to air and exercise.

40 minutes ago, Mark J said:

 

I don't think a personal trainer, or a musician or dog walker etc should have to pay for using our recreational spaces.

There we will differ, I think in principal commercial users should pay but I can see a policing cost and difficulty as Kevin points out. A system of licensing creates a black market which we have seen in things like milk quotas.

 

Read the "tragedy of the commons" which demonstrates the problems of unregulated shared use an how it never benefits a common user to restrain their use of a resource to the detriment of the many.

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29 minutes ago, openspaceman said:

So do I  but mostly I'd prefer that public open spaces were not used for such things but rather for quiet enjoyment.

 

As an aside many pieces of common land which were acquired when local authorities took on the manorial wastes have were not registered and thus the protection offered them were lost so people cannot benefit from the various commons acts which granted them the right to air and exercise.

There we will differ, I think in principal commercial users should pay but I can see a policing cost and difficulty as Kevin points out. A system of licensing creates a black market which we have seen in things like milk quotas.

 

Read the "tragedy of the commons" which demonstrates the problems of unregulated shared use an how it never benefits a common user to restrain their use of a resource to the detriment of the many.

I'm about to read more about the tradegy of the commons, thanks for that.

 

I was mainly thinking of inner city parks, which are usually pretty busy places anyway.  I agree that quieter places should stay that way.

 

Edited by Mark J
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1 hour ago, openspaceman said:

So do I  but mostly I'd prefer that public open spaces were not used for such things but rather for quiet enjoyment.

I can relate to that....  and whilst not in favour of over-regulation, I guess by-laws could be an appropriate means to enforce - "no balls games, no skating" etc are not uncommon signs.

 

Similar to Mark, I've got some reading regarding Commons to do.  We have registered common land in the parish which has historic grazing rights and a Commoners Association, but due to a bit of awkwardness dealing with the land owner and the demise of free range grazing by those with the rights, the areas are suffering* / benefitting* from a degree of re-wilding with a dominance of Gorse. 

 

* depending upon your view of such situations.....?

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49 minutes ago, kevinjohnsonmbe said:

I can relate to that....  and whilst not in favour of over-regulation, I guess by-laws could be an appropriate means to enforce - "no balls games, no skating" etc are not uncommon signs.

 

I would class the above as quiet enjoyment whereas I would not put motor racing or pop concerts  in that group.

49 minutes ago, kevinjohnsonmbe said:

 

Similar to Mark, I've got some reading regarding Commons to do.  We have registered common land in the parish which has historic grazing rights and a Commoners Association, but due to a bit of awkwardness dealing with the land owner and the demise of free range grazing by those with the rights, the areas are suffering* / benefitting* from a degree of re-wilding with a dominance of Gorse. 

 

* depending upon your view of such situations.....?

Having had some unfortunate experiences in this area I would say the  commons that still have commoners are better protected from abuse. In my area those commons that went to councils and private charity are being most abused. In fact the M25 runs through a common and is still registered common land yet the owner of the land (Highways Agency) have never made available alternate exchange land. Indeed much of the rest of the common is council owned and whilst for now open to the public is not protected, the very reason the LA did not register it.

 

I can talk long and hard about the wrong doings of wildlife trusts and Natural England since they became a castrated  version of the countryside commission  and the new green welly booted professional conservationists  eschewed all the past practices of land husbandry  in favour of quick fixes. Some on this forum will have benefited from their naivety.

 

Please don't misunderstand me,  I understand that enclosure and the move away from mediaeval agronomic practices was a necessary part of progress via a capitalist economy but now we are in a mature economy I think we should preserve public rights to what remains. In this vein  it is the public rights for air and recreation on your doorstep that means a lot and it is that that is being steadily eroded with SANGs being created on land already public openspace  in order to "manage" how people access it and vast sums being spent on management and resources to effectively urbanise what was undeveloped open space.

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