Ely Does Not Have A Parking Problem
I FULLY support Andrew Olley and the Ely Traders’ Association campaign against the introduction of parking charges in the district. It is five and a half years since this subject was last kicked into touch.
The first point I would like to make is that Ely does not have a parking problem. Examine the ridiculous restrictions in some of our long-stay car parks that mean that they are blocked all day by 9am to 5pm workers and we will have even less of a parking problem.
A simple fact that has been ignored is that Ely is simply too small to charge for parking. Ely does not have, for example, a Debenhams, an M & S, a Halfords, a PC World or any large stores within the city centre for people to even reluctantly pay to park as they do in Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds. Conversely much of Ely’s charm is because there are so many unique independent small businesses – the very businesses most threatened by the spectre of car parking charges.
At the local elections in May I have no recollection of any individual or party including any review of parking regimes in their manifesto. I wonder why?
I suggest that our councillors who are in favour of parking charges make the short trip to Newmarket on a non racing day. Is it coincidence that since the introduction of parking charges (and their subsequent reduction) there that town has lost its vibrancy, has a fly blown appearance and has numerous empty retail units? When I visited recently Rouse Road car park was no more than 40 per cent full at midday.
Have our councillors forgotten that they gave planning permission for two new supermarkets that will include provision of more than 600 FREE parking spaces? These new car parks are no more off centre than some existing council owned ones.
Are our councillors aware of the (Conservative led) government’s policy that parking charges must never be used as a general revenue stream?
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The council keep saying that they will seek public consultation on the matter. Can they not see that public consultation is staring them in the face in the form of a 10,000 signature petition?
The only possible beneficiary of the introduction of parking charges will be the supermarkets. The losers will be town centre businesses and all the council tax and business rate payers who already pay for parking through their taxes and who will have to pay for ever and a day in addition to those taxes.
It is not the big supermarkets that are destroying our High Streets – it is greedy local councils.