Row over car parking rumbles on
PUBLISHED: 12:34 20 October 2011
"I think the traders have got a very good point when they look at Sainsbury's and a massive new Tesco with their free parking spaces on the edge of the city and worry about what impact charges will have on them in the centre."
THE row over car park charges in Ely has rumbled on this week, with opposition councillors speaking out for the first time on the issue.
So far, both Liberal Democrat councillors and local Labour Party members have chosen to keep their counsel but, for the first time this week, both groups have spoken about their concern for the future of the city centre.
Liberal Democrat leader and Witchford councillor Ian Allen, said: “In the past the Liberal Democrats have supported a comprehensive charging regime, including civil parking enforcement, providing that the money went on transport improvements but the council just seems to be plugging a gap in its budget.
“I think the traders have got a very good point when they look at Sainsbury’s and a massive new Tesco with their free parking spaces on the edge of the city and worry about what impact charges will have on them in the centre.
“I think that if the council hadn’t have been short of money, they would not be introducing parking charges. They don’t seem interested in solving congestion or transport issues.”
Cllr Allen was speaking just a week after it emerged that the council’s ruling Conservative group had unveiled a proposal to make the city’s Market Place a part-time car park, while also ditching plans to charge for on-street parking in favour of improved police enforcement.
Cllr Bill Hunt said the proposals “represented fairness” for all taxpayers in the district and stressed that no decision had yet been taken.
Local Labour representative Clive Jeffries, disagreed however, accusing the council of not thinking the proposals through.
“City centre businesses in Ely are facing growing challenges – new supermarkets and an expansion of out of centre shopping, whilst bringing benefits to consumers will pull shoppers out of the centre at a time when many people are spending less.
“Whilst we welcome recent efforts to consult and look at different options we are concerned that many of the ideas have not been properly thought through and it appears that their likely impact is not understood fully.
“As more shopping areas across the country look to become car free it is odd that Ely councillors wish to reintroduce parking in a pedestrian area.”
Mr Jeffries called on district councillors to pause discussions on parking and use the time to talk further with businesses about the need to support the city centre economy.