Drama as councillors waver on parking decision

A DECISION on introducing parking charges in Ely was dramatically stalled amid emotional scenes in the council chamber on Tuesday.

A series of heartfelt appeals from campaigners and councillors alike prompted a remarkable change of tact from the Development and Transport sub-Committee, with members agreeing to look again at the principle of charging.

Conservative for Ely North, Mike Rouse, proved the key player in the decision, telling a packed gallery that he was uncomfortable making the decision and that the council “must take the people with us.”

He said: “I have listened carefully to the debate from all sides and I sincerely believe that we haven’t got a complete package before us.

“I don’t think it addresses all the issues with regards to anti-social parking on street, especially around the area of the station. I must be true to my residents and to my principles and we must take the people with us.”

In light of Cllr Rouse’s comments, council leader Peter Moakes moved to defer the decision and council officers and councillors will look once again at every aspect of the debate before coming back to the next Development and Transport sub-Committee in April.

A delighted Andrew Olley, figurehead of the Ely Traders Association (ETA) campaign to scrap the charges, said: “I think some of the councillors showed a moral fibre today and a real willingness to listen to the representations of local people. I think it is really important that at the next meeting of the committee, that some care for public concern is shown.”

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Ely resident John Blunt, added: “It was very good news but also very frustrating because the discussion they had today could have been had six months ago.”

The council was widely expected to push through the decision to back parking charges at the meeting, but the Conservative numbers were depleted early on when Cllr Tony Cornell declared an interest and was excluded from the debate.

Independent councillor Colin Fordham also spoke out against the charges before, from the gallery, Ely councillor Elaine Griffin-Singh made an emotional plea for councillors to think again on the proposals.