Trio punished for car park defiance

A TRIO of councillors who defied their party over plans to introduce car parking charges in Ely have been punished for their public shows of opposition.

At a key meeting of the Environment and Transport Committee earlier this month, Conservative councillors Mike Rouse, Anna Bailey and Elaine Griffin-Singh voiced their opposition to the plans for car park charges in the city.

Less than a month later, they have been sidelined by Conservative group leader Peter Moakes and deputy leader James Palmer in a group reshuffle that has seen all three removed from their positions on committees.

The news comes just days after Cllr Moakes announced a change of tack on plans to introduce parking charges, telling this newspaper in a letter: “I have taken on board all those views expressed at the committee meeting and clearly see the opportunity to reassess the council’s position and options.

“Whilst I believe that a significant majority of the councillors still support the original proposals for charging, I am now convinced the proposals fall short of addressing the needs and demands of our city.”

On the issue of the councillors being removed from their committee posts, Cllr Moakes confirmed it “was the case” that the decision had been taken by the Conservative group to remove the trio but stressed that the moved was “part of a wider reshuffle”.

The council leader said there was “no fixed term” for the councillors’ punishment but insisted they would still be allowed to shape policy and comment on plans to introduce parking charges.

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Speaking to the Ely Standard, Cllr Mike Rouse said: “I continue to represent the people of North Ely on the district council but, at the moment, I am not sitting on any of the committees.

“My responsibility first is to the people who elected me and I must do what I think is best for them.”

Cllr Griffin-Singh said: “This is obviously a very big issue for the city I represent, and it is something that I have been involved with historically, so it would have been very difficult for me to be sitting at home and not voicing the concerns of the community I represent.”

Cllr Bailey was unavailable for comment as we went to press.