South West Wales

Swansea Council considers parking charges for teachers

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Media captionThe idea has prompted criticism from members of the public

Car parking charges for teachers could be brought in under plans being considered in Swansea.

Each school would be able to decide whether to introduce the charges, which would increase depending on a member of staff's pay.

Any money raised would stay in the school's own budget.

Swansea Council said no decision had been made but the cabinet was aware of the "strength and depth of feeling about this proposal".

Council staff working in the Guildhall and the civic centre in the city already pay for parking on a similar system.

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Image caption Some schools in the city centre and Brynmill do not have their own parking

The plans, which would involve a sliding scale of charges, would be introduced from the 1 April if passed.

Teaching unions say they are opposed to the plans, which they say would detrimentally affect their members but point out that it illustrates the tight budgets all schools have to deal with.

The council said it has proposed the idea to help schools raise additional funds.

It was put forward for consultation in December but each school would be able to decide for itself and hold onto any money raised.

A Swansea Council spokesman said it faced making more than £20m savings due to ongoing austerity.

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Image caption Olchfa School has car parking space for staff

"As part of our wider budget consultation we asked schools, teachers and their unions for their views about introducing a modest charge for on-site parking bringing them in line with many other council workers," he said.

"The proposal made it clear all money raised would be kept by individual schools and charges would be on a sliding scale dependant on income to protect lower paid staff."

The council said all views would be taken into account as final budget proposals were prepared in the coming days.

They include an increase in funding for education in excess of £3m in the coming year as well as around £150m of investment in new schools and facilities.

Elaine Edwards, Ucac union general secretary, said the union was "astounded" at the proposal and said it "smacks of desperation".

"It's totally unacceptable that the council would wish to impose parking charges on a public sector workforce that has seen salaries frozen or capped for the last seven years," she said.

"Teachers carry huge loads of books every day which makes travelling by public transport impracticable.

"And we're concerned that the imposition of charges will increase the bureaucratic burden on head teachers who might be expected to collect fees and distribute licences."

It called on the council to withdraw "these unreasonable and ill-thought-out proposals" immediately.

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