Parking switch fury

PUBLISHED: 09:01 02 December 2011

P for parking sign

P for parking sign

Archant

LAST-minute changes to the council's parking proposals have dismayed one Ely councillor, who has questioned whether the ongoing consultation process is valid.

Ely North Ward councillor Elaine Griffin-Singh said she and other “sceptical” councillors had worked hard to create a parking charge scheme that had taken into consideration the views of everyone concerned.

In the days after the proposal was approved for public consultation, councillors sitting on the Overview and Scrutiny and Strategic Policy committees introduced new options, which had not been previously discussed and could substantially alter the charging scheme.

Under the scheme originally approved by the council’s Development and Transport Committee in early November, a three-year guarantee was built in to reassure the public that the charges would not rise before 2015, when the next General Election is due.

An outline pricing structure was also put in place to see that the amount charged to visitors in the long-stay car parks was limited to a maximum of £1.

According to Cllr Griffin-Singh, however, both of these assurances have been altered so that, potentially, the charge could be altered by councillors before 2015 and the maximum charge for long-stay car parks was raised to a possible daily rate of £5.

“Sadly, these changes, cannot be laid at the feet of the opposition party, but at the feet of some Conservative councillors who chose to influence others and go against the agreed scheme,” said Cllr Griffin-Singh.

“The price has potentially gone up even before the scheme comes in and not after, despite the promises our spokesman was asked to relay to the public, and despite the requirement to cover the cost of car park provision of £217,000 having been met by the projection.

“I know my public account will not make me popular with some colleagues but my priority is to my personal integrity and in representing the community who put their faith in me as a person or as a Conservative.”

Cllr Griffin-Singh added that, given the changes, she had been left questioning the validity of the current consultation. She told the Ely Standard, however, that she had not considered resigning.

“I recommend constituents use their right to comment on the three-year price guarantee and £1 per day maximum, which was the core of the unique scheme designed and promised for Ely,” she said.

Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Allen said: “Presumably, traders and residents were consulted about these late changes, or not?”

Councillor Peter Moakes, chairman of Development and Transport sub committee, said: “Over the last couple of weeks, two committees at the council have fed back suggestions to the consultation which we felt we needed be taken into consideration.

“We apologise for any confusion or inconvenience this may cause but we felt it was important to include this idea as part of the consultation so we could give all options to the public.

“In order to have the freedom to review any future car parking model, members also asked to remove the guarantee on all charges up to 2015.

“It is important to stress this does not mean decisions have been taken on the car park charging model we have chosen and for the remaining eight weeks of public consultation there will no additions.”

According to the council, more than 100 responses to the consultation have been received. The updated consultation will appear online at: wwweastcambs.gov.uk on Friday.

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