Working party is a total farce’
A WORKING party set up to discuss car parking charges for the city centre has been attacked as farcical by one of its members. Ely trader Elaine Griffin-Singh has spoken out as councillors prepare to meet on Tuesday to give the go-ahead for parking char
A WORKING party set up to discuss car parking charges for the city centre has been attacked as "farcical" by one of its members.
Ely trader Elaine Griffin-Singh has spoken out as councillors prepare to meet on Tuesday to give the go-ahead for parking charges to be introduced.
She fears the decision is a "foregone conclusion" and the working party was only set up to calm opposition to the scheme.
Mrs Griffin-Singh, who runs Griffin Antiques on Ely's Forehill, has warned East Cambridgeshire District Council that, if the plan for parking charges is pushed through, traders will battle on, staging more demonstrations in the city centre and lobbying councillors running for re-election next year.
"The working party is a farce," she said. "I am the only strongly negative person in the group and I am totally out-numbered by other members from the council's environment and transport committee.
"I think it has been a waste of time. It was set up to dot the I's and cross the T's. Nothing has come out of the working party except they have ticked all the boxes. I think the decision on parking charges is a foregone conclusion.
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"But if they vote in favour of parking charges we will not go away. We will escalate our opposition and there will be more demonstrations with placards in the street.
"Councillors are coming up for re-election in 2007 and we will make them accountable. We will want them to state where they stand on this issue."
She added that the working party had not discussed any alternatives to car parking charges for solving the city's traffic problems.
East Cambridgeshire District Council's environment and transport committee is being urged by officers to introduce parking charges by September 2007 at the earliest and back plans for hopper buses picking up passengers from the city suburbs.
The plan for parking charges suffered a serious set back last autumn when a park-and-ride scheme on land at Angel Drove was sacrificed as councillors rejected the new council headquarters project.
East Cambs District Council were not prepared to comment on the issue before Tuesday's meeting.
East Cambridgeshire District Council's development services director, David Archer, said: "In light of the council's decision not to move to Angel Drove the environment and transport committee has to review the strategic and operational objectives for a transport strategy for Ely, including the introduction of car park charging.
"The working party has been fully involved in the review and will be advising the environment and transport committee.
"Delivering a transport strategy for Ely will require funding streams to be identified and it is difficult to envisage delivering any improvements without revenue from a car park charging regime. No decisions have yet been taken as to the exact nature of the improvements and we will continue to explore all options to meet the needs of Ely's growing population.