Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Traders' concern with sky-high West Sussex scaffolding costs
Traders are looking to the sky as scaffolding costs have rocketed to more than £150 a month – three times more than neighbouring areas.
West Sussex County Council has increased the cost of putting up temporary structures on public highways to £155 for the first month – an increase of 3.33%.
This was despite admitting the costs could lead to some tradesmen not applying for the necessary paperwork and causing damage to highways.
In comparison Brighton and Hove charge £50 and East Sussex £45 for a similar period of time.
Workers, who are already struggling in the economic climate, said this cost will be pushed on to customers.
Mike Middleton, of Brighton-based R&M Scaffolding, said: “Councillors are making decisions about increasing charges without thinking about who have to pay these extra costs.
“Inevitably it will be passed on to the householder, which, in turn, is another tax for the householder in times of austerity.”
Every council responsible for highways in the country charges a licence fee for those putting scaffolding up when it obstructs the pavement or roads.
The 2011/12 fees set by West Sussex County Council were £150 for the first month and £100 for every month after.
However the local authority said it had increased the prices due to inflation.
The council claims it is a “more accurate reflection” of the cost it occurs in processing and monitoring the scaffolding.
A report produced by the local authority when it agreed the charges said: “There is a risk that high cost can lead to some of the activities being attempted without seeking the necessary approvals.” It added there was a risk this would lead to “unsafe practices” and “uncontrolled activities” leading to damage of publicly owned assets, such as roads and pavements.
A council spokesman said: “The county council’s current charges were last reviewed in 2010.
“The new charges will be reconsidered after six months to take into account the outcome of a corporate bench-marking study which is a comparison with neighbouring authorities into charges.”