Furious Ely Residents Tell Councillors "Hang Your Heads in Shame"

PUBLISHED: 13:51 26 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:38 04 May 2010

FURIOUS Ely residents turned on their councillors on Tuesday, accusing them of smugness and suggesting they should hang their heads in shame . Shocked committee members were forced to suspend their meeting as residents of Ely city centre, furious that

FURIOUS Ely residents turned on their councillors on Tuesday, accusing them of "smugness" and suggesting they should "hang their heads in shame".

Shocked committee members were forced to suspend their meeting as residents of Ely city centre, furious that their representatives had failed to make a decision on residents' parking, started shouting at councillors.

"You have turned me into a criminal," said one woman. "It's just going on and on and on," yelled another resident. "You're going to defer a decision until next March at the earliest- that's a long time when you have got to move your car twice every day or risk getting a parking ticket at £30 a time. It doesn't affect any of you because you don't live here. We've taken it up time and time again with you and you haven't listened."

Ninety-minute parking restrictions in Ely city centre between 8am and 10am mean that residents are unable to leave their car for free anywhere for a 24-hour period.

Conservative councillors agreed to delay any decision until decriminalisation of parking has been decided on. In Cambridge, parking tickets are handed out by the city council - but in all other areas of the county, police have responsibility, and for the last five years, the county council and local authorities have been unable to come to a decision despite lengthy discussions. Ely police support the move, but authorities are dragging their heels, setting up a "decriminalisation working party" which will meet for at least six months, according to development director David Archer.

An expensive survey was carried out prior to the meeting, and residents admitted they were prepared to pay up to £100 for a permit - but councillors still failed to act.

There was fury that those who work in the city centre, and tourists are given priority over resident taxpayers, as councillors voted to allow guest houses permanent business permits for use by residents.

"You can't be visiting Ely, enjoying a nice fried breakfast, then get up in the middle of it to move your car," said Jackie Petts, the only councillor who represents Ely on the Environment and Transport Committee. She abstained from the vote, but other Conservative councillors failed to side with residents. "We wanted to make residents fight for a parking space like everybody else in East Cambridgeshire," said Cllr Tony Goodge.

But Cllr Petts admitted: "The plan was to stop commuters taking up spaces all day, but there has been an unfortunate side-effect for residents."

At the same meeting, councillors agreed unanimously to increase the amount businesses have to pay for permits by an unspecified amount which will later be set by council officers. City centre businesses currently pay just £25 per year.

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