Ely traders hit out at “undemocratic” parking consultation

My People Awards Ely. Andrew Olley

My People Awards Ely. Andrew Olley - Credit: Archant

THE Ely Traders’ Association have labelled the consultation into car park charging “underhand, undemocratic and fatally flawed” are have issued a plea for help from residents.

Car parking charges planned for Ely in car parks owned by East Cambs District Council

Car parking charges planned for Ely in car parks owned by East Cambs District Council - Credit: Archant

The association has called on people opposed to the charges to attend a meeting of the City of Ely Council on March 11 to register their disapproval and make their feelings known to councillors.

A consultation on a scheme to introduce charging to Ely’s council-owned car parks was agreed between the city council and East Cambridgeshire District Council and finished on March 1.

The consultation drew criticism from the outset however, as residents complained that there was no scope for respondents to voice their opposition to the charges.

Andrew Olley, of the traders association, said: “City councillors must be made aware of the underhand and undemocratic way this flawed proposal has been concocted and presented to the public.

“What has yet to come out in the press, is the fact that this whole consultation document was signed off by the leader Peter Moakes in private without it going through any district council committee for discussion.

“That is why we have ended up with such a hopelessly biased consultation full of laughable questions, none of which give anyone the chance to say no.

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“It is imperative that the Councillors realise the repercussions of this proposal for a city about to receive a huge, new out-of-town retail development. This development will see a thousand free parking spaces created and an expanded Tesco at the heart of it.”

Cllr Peter Moakes and Cllr Will Burton, hit back at the traders association however, saying: “We totally refute the comments made by Mr Olley - he knows more than anyone the lengths which both the city and district councils have gone to consult on this and previous car parking proposals. “Our aim throughout has been to be open, honest and transparent - giving the residents, workers and visitors to Ely the chance to have their say on our ideas. While we also understand the passion of Mr Olley’s argument - there is no place for personal attacks which do nothing to take these discussions forward.

“We would also highlight that the City of Ely Council have no item on their agenda to discuss the car park plans on March 11 so would not wish people to have a wasted journey.

“We have worked extremely hard to put together with the City of Ely Council, a fair and straight forward car parking scheme in Ely for as local authorities we face many challenges. We are currently going through the responses from the consultation and we will report on these in due course.”