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I think we have all finally reached the end of our tether with being fleeced day after day with ludicrous parking charges, for which we receive absolutely nothing in return but for a piece of concrete, monitored by a uniformed Stasi with the educational level of a house brick.

The problem is country wide but in Brighton, one of the biggest offenders of using the citizens as a cash cow, and the only city outside of London to appear on the top ten list of most income raised by parking charges, the council in its infinite wisdom has just announced a 300% increase in parking charges. Yes, you read that right, a 300% increase - or as they termed it, because we are all stupid and think 1p makes a difference, 299.9%.

This means that people attending the Royal Sussex County Hospital, including the doctors and nurses, will see the charge jump from £1.40 an hour to £5.60 an hour. Of course, in one regard the council is not stupid as with the massive delays within the NHS at the moment, over 50% of those parkers will receive a penalty notice for overstaying and there’s another £35 each time in the council coffers.

After an outcry by residents, it is now being reviewed but that just means they will come back with ‘only’ a 250% increase for which we should all be grateful for their kindness.

The problem here, apart for the rip off, is that none of that money will go back into maintaining the roads and if they tell you it does, they are telling porkies. It goes into the general coffers due to their incompetence at budgeting and what better way to fill the coffers than ripping off motorists as their cost for doing so is zero. No investment needed, just hike the charges for the same slab of tarmac, fine everyone for overstaying and watch the cash roll in. If any of us had that business model, we would be millionaires within the year - or in jail.

On the same day as that announcement, quelle surprise, the council leader Bella Sankey announced that Brighton & Hove Council has a £3 million black hole in its accounts, as if it is nothing to do with them, and needs to start work on filling it and there you have it.

In any normal business, it would not be a surprise that you have overspent or been totally incompetent with your budgeting, as we all have competent accountants, Financial Directors and bookkeepers but then we ‘earn’ our money we don’t have the luxury of pickpocketing our clients every time we stuff up the budget.

Then they slide in a note that electric car charging prices will rise by between 56% and 80% in three days time! This is the council that cares so much about the environment that they think it is perfectly OK to rip of people who have paid an arm and a leg for an EV.

These people have no shame.

If they spent it on the appalling roads in the city it would be one thing but using it to balance the books is incompetent, underhand and should be illegal.

Figures from 2019, you can bet it has risen considerably since then, show that the Chief Executive received £188,369 (higher than the PM) with the highest earners snaffling an average £130,000 pa. As if a sick joke, the Director Finance gets £137,622! In any ‘normal’ business he would not be paid, he would be fired.

You can hear the excuses coming - ‘it’s not our fault, we have just taken over from the Greens’ but the same shit was going on when they ran the council from 1996 - 2003.

In 2021/22, the council made £31 million in profit from parking so you can see the temptation for an easy fix. An easy
fix from the incompetent rather than finding savings or surrendering some salary. Their expenses alone were over £1 million.

There are enough issues here to fill the entire magazine but who can resist looking at the ‘investment’ in the i360. £40 million is now owed with the venue close to bankruptcy almost since the day it was opened. Acting like highly experienced business leaders, the council did a ‘deal’ to loan a private company £36 million to build it and, like any successful business leader, didn’t seem terribly surprised that they have only ever received back £960,000. When a FOI request went in, they spent another £40,000 with lawyers fighting publication - why?  Because it made them look stupid that they fell for the pitch.

What a cracking deal. No doubt they will raise some charge in the city to make that money back with zero personal responsibility because of course, they see us as nothing more than ignorant cash cows.

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