Once again Cornwall Council is set to ignore Government advice and local people are likely to suffer as a result. This time, the issue is parking and small towns such as Launceston will bear the brunt of local Tories decision to put cash above communities.
As I have blogged many times in recent weeks, parking charges are set to rise hugely in our area and I believe that the impact will be devastating on local shops and businesses. The charges will hit both shoppers and shop workers. Shoppers will be hit by average charge rises of 42% and shop workers (often among the lowest paid local workers) will see permit charges rise from £195 per year to £600.
Yesterday, the Government confirmed that it sees the car as a necessary tool - especially in areas where there is poor public transport. The former Labour government seemed to be seeking to impose a public transport solution. In theory this was fine - I want to see much more use of public transport and I know that this is the wish of the Council too. But it fails in practice because of the lack of public transport in many rural areas (including North Cornwall). The Labour view seemed to have been an urban-centric view where there are buses or trains every few minutes making the need for a car much more of a luxury than a necessity.
The new view - that people in rural areas rely on cars - goes on to say that we must therefore make sure that drivers can use their cars without unnecessary penalty. Taxes on petrol are high enough already (and went up again this morning with the VAT increase) and we should not be lumping yet more costs on motorists by imposing exorbitant parking fees.
Yet Cornwall Council appears determined to run contrary to this policy by viewing town centre parking as a cash cow which can be milked at will. The Council's Cabinet will be having the final say on parking charges next week. I very much hope that they will by then have read the new government policy and decide that (for once) the man from the ministry does know best.