Market Place could become car park under new proposals

A NEW twist in the city’s ongoing parking saga could see the Market Place transformed into a car park under a new set of proposals.

According to plans put forward by the district council’s ruling Conservative group this week, Ely Market Place could be made available for parking for up to 30 minutes.

The new proposals also suggested scrapping plans to charge for ‘on street’ parking in favour of improved enforcement action from local police.

The proposals were put forward by the Conservatives during an “informal” meeting with the Ely Traders Association (ETA) last week.

Cllr Bill Hunt, acting as spokesman for the Conservative group said: “Positive discussions are taking place with Cambridgeshire County Council about making the market square available for car parking.

“It is anticipated that this would work under the same rules as other on street arrangements, and, like the High Street, would be limited to 30 minute parking and be free of charge.”

Cllr Hunt added that the square would not be available on market days or for special events.

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Despite the new proposals however, the ETA remain unhappy, spokesman Andrew Olley said: “The council should be managing the development of this growing community. It is not. It isn’t listening to its residents concerns.

“The council should be explaining how they are going to protect local businesses and the jobs of all those who work in the city centre but instead it is putting forward a proposal which will yet further disadvantage its city centre businesses.”

The meeting between the two groups followed a public meeting held on the issue last month and a 12,000-signature petition organised by the ETA.

At the meeting, the Conservative group also outlined tariffs for car park charges, including a �20 charge for a one-year permit and �50 for a three-year permit.

A proposal to charge staff working at the district council to park at The Grange was also put forward, though the car park would remain available for public use outside of office hours.

Cllr Hunt added: “Councillors believe that, if car parking charges are required, this proposal represents fairness for all tax payers across the district, including those residents that do not use the car parks as well as part-time workers and people on lower wages.”