Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Liberal Democrats seek 'call-in' of Cornwall parking decision

Three of my Liberal Democrat colleagues on Cornwall Council have asked for a 'call-in' of the Conservative led Cabinet's decision to raise parking charges. If approved, the decision will be reviewed by the Council's Environment and Economy scrutiny committee.

The three councillors involved are Edwina Hannaford, Jackie Bull and Ruth Lewarne representing wards in East, Mid and West Cornwall.

Edwina told me:
We believe that the decision made by Cabinet was wrong on a number of grounds. They failed to take account of the needs of older people, failed to assess the impact on all of Cornwall or on town centres, relied on baseless assessments, and ignored the evidence from season ticket holders that trebling the cost would stop them buying tickets.

We are therefore asking for the scrutiny committee to have the right to look at the proposals, call for the missing evidence and, if justified, send it back to Cabinet to think again.

When the Cabinet considered the impact on the poorer people, they looked only at five areas in the West of Cornwall, ignoring the effects of even higher increases in towns like Liskeard and Launceston in the East. We believe that this was wrong and discriminatory and fails to take account of the lack of public transport in the East including the absence of trains in North Cornwall.

The Cabinet also refused to look at the likely impact on our town centres. We believe that much higher charges will have a huge impact on local shops and businesses and could send many to the wall. The Council talks in its business plan about working closely with the private sector, yet they have not even been considered in this decision.

Some of the hardest hit will be low paid workers who will see the cost of their season ticket treble in two years in many areas. The officers gave assurances that they were 'confident' that all season ticket holders would continue to buy them. But we know this is simply not true and that the Cabinet based its decision on assertions that have no basis in fact.

We believe that the option of freezing parking charges should also have been considered. It would have been fair to motorists and the Council knows how much they will get with this option. The Conservative proposals are uncosted and we believe they will fail to make anything like the money they want whilst forcing people out of work in the process.
A 'call-in' can only be granted on very limited legal grounds and the decision as to whether this will be allowed rests with legal officers at the Council. If agreed, a meeting of the E&E scrutiny committee must be held within 11 days.

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