Cathedral parking row goes on

PUBLISHED: 11:43 18 May 2006 | UPDATED: 13:30 04 May 2010

A LEADING councillor wants to see a referendum over controversial plans to allow parking on Ely Cathedral land. Tory Cllr Fred Brown, who used his casting vote to push the project onto the next stage at a recent meeting, believes residents would throw the

A LEADING councillor wants to see a referendum over controversial plans to allow parking on Ely Cathedral land.

Tory Cllr Fred Brown, who used his casting vote to push the project onto the next stage at a recent meeting, believes residents would throw their weight behind the scheme - a view not borne out by an Ely Standard poll.

"It's a pity we can't have a referendum on this because I know what the outcome would be," he said.

But a poll run by the Ely Standard on its website showed the vast majority of people responding favoured keeping the land as open space.

Seventy nine per cent voted against parking on cathedral land saying they wanted the city's green spaces preserved, regardless of the situation. Only 21 per cent voted in favour.

Tories and Liberal Democrat councillors locked horns over the issue at East Cambridgeshire District Council's overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday forcing its chairman, Cllr Brown, to use his casting vote to move the issue forward.

Now the scheme, which would extend Ely's Broad Street car park onto cathedral land at the bottom of Cherry Hill Park creating 59 extra spaces, will go before full council.

But the issue is far from settled as, even with the full council stamp of approval, it still needs to be passed by planners and English Heritage and an agreement to lease the land has to be drawn up with the cathedral Dean and Chapter. It could take up to 18 months to be actioned.

Cllr Brown added: "I wanted to give members a chance to have their say on this issue, that's why I used my casting vote to send this to full council.

"We have a huge problem with a city that is historically confined and in order to make it viable to people who want to shop it has to be convenient. We have to look at areas that are available and find a solution to this problem.

"It is all very well saying that this plan will erode cathedral space but historically the cathedral has relied on tourism and, because of that, it generates the need for a lot of parking.

"If you go round to every trader in Ely they are trying to keep all these balls in the air and juggle with one hand tied behind their back. Shops are closing."

Liberal Democrat councillors are fighting the move because they fear the Tories are determined to "pave over paradise and put up a parking lot".

Cllr Ian Allen said: "It is simply not sustainable to destroy this historic green space in the city centre for the sake of central car park spaces."

He claimed the plan would lead to less parking spaces in the city overall because out of town parking at Cresswells Lane would be lost if the council carries out its intention not to renew the lease.

"They are squandering this historic green space for no overall gain in spaces. It is lunacy," he added.

Ely Traders Association believes the scheme should go-ahead along with plans to create a new car park at Angel Drove to move commuters out of the city centre bays.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Do you want parking on cathedral land? Cast your vote on our website at www.ely-standard.co.uk.

Write and let us know WHAT YOU THINK at: the Ely Standard, 38 Market Street, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4LS or email: editor@ely-standard.co.uk

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