PUBLISHED: 11:18 19 October 2006 | UPDATED: 13:33 04 May 2010
THE recent letter from the Ely Traders Association (ETA) exudes a degree of euphoria in the belief that they have the support of Conservative councillors in the battle to hold back the introduction of car park charging in Ely. It is ironic that ETA are s
THE recent letter from the Ely Traders' Association (ETA) exudes a degree of euphoria in the belief that they have the support of Conservative councillors in the battle to hold back the introduction of car park charging in Ely.
It is ironic that ETA are so pleased about this new car park when it actually introduces the principle of charging in council-owned car parks. I presume this is because it hits commuters and not shoppers. ETA appears not to recognise that these individuals are often the same people.
Many residents will recollect that four years ago the Conservatives told the electorate that the Liberal Democrat Group had exhausted the council's resources. Residents will recall the often-repeated phrase "The Cupboard is Bare" - when there was more than £6 million in financial reserves.
The impression given that the Conservatives are now against parking charges in Ely heralds a similar assault on the electorate of East Cambs. It is to be hoped that not everyone will succumb to the misplaced faith that ETA has in this. It is not the case that the Conservative group is now against charging and it flies in the face of all the evidence.
The fact that such large sums of Council Tax are already used to subsidise the so-called "free" parking in Ely, does not sit well among those who are not so well-off, may not own a car or live in depressed parts of the district. Charging is inevitable if real improvements are to be made for them to access the centre of Ely.
Unless fundamental change in the council's political management is achieved, car parking income will be used by the Conservatives simply as a cash cow for the council. Only the guarantee demanded by Liberal Democrat councillors, that any revenues generated from a charging regime be used to improve public transport, will ensure that whatever money comes in will not simply be directed towards the council's general finances.
The interpretation placed by ETA on the £700k as being a gift to the train company, highlights the bias to which the writer is inclined rather than acknowledge it to be the investment it actually is.
The practice of partnership working is no different to that given to other external private organisations with which the council enjoys a commercial relationship for provision of services for the district. The money would have been used as part of the overall package of improvements at the station that would have benefited a large cross-section of the community not just those in cars but also pedestrians, cyclists and eventually bus users.
These improvements, incidentally, are also an aim of the Conservative-controlled county council who are happy to support us but appear to be at odds with their district counterparts.
CLLR NEIL MORRISON
Liberal Democrat Group
Environment and Transport Committee member