FURTHER to your article, I wish to clarify the following points.

FURTHER to your article and headline in last week’s publications, I wish to clarify the following points:

The recommendation is to join the Cambridgeshire County Council wide scheme of on street parking enforcement.

The recommendation as adopted is too bring to the cabinet a further report detailing the options for civil parking controls. This role was formally carried out by the police, who no longer carry out this work, (unless there is offence being committed). It is now the responsibility of the local authorities.

There are NO current plans to introduce pay parking in Fenland in the near future and no commitment was endorsed.


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Over the next five years, the coalition government has ordered at least 25% cuts in local government funding. Fenland District Council will have to find an extra �1.4 million of cuts or income, over and above the �3.46 million already identified.

The provision of free car parking, along with other services will have to be reviewed.

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Fenland already spends �406,000 on the provision of free parking.

�500,000 has already been identified as the amount needed to upgrade and repair our existing car parks.

We have also identified the need to provide further parking provision in March and Wisbech. To buy the land and prepare parking facilities, would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. There has been talk of building multi-storey car parks in Wisbech and March, this would cost millions. Quite frankly, we have not got the money.

There is no such thing as free parking; the council tax payer already pays!

Our car parks including cleaning costs already consume 7% of Fenlands council tax bill!

The government has also ordered councils not to increase council tax next year, 0% is a real cut, as inflation is currently running at around 3%.

A modest increase of 1% (or �2 per year) of council tax would normally raise �75,000, you don’t have to be a mathematical genius to do the sums!

For any person, councillor, or opposition candidate to deny that the discussion will have to take place is being dishonest. The next council will have to discuss parking and other service funding issues, before the money runs out!

CLLR ALAN MELTON

Leader

Fenland District Council

Via e-mail

MAY I give you a glimpse of the future I recently visited a small market town in the midlands that introduced pay parking four of five years ago. At 11am on a Saturday morning I could have parked almost anywhere in the town centre car park. Before pay parking I would have been lucky to find a space. So where had all the shoppers gone? Well they were all at the edge of town retail complex which includes a large supermarket a garden centre and seven or eight shop units which include some well known national shopping names.

Parking was free in a huge car park yet you struggled to find a parking place. Meanwhile up in town shops were closed and a local market once held twice a week was now down to one day and had been decimated to two stalls due to lack of trade. When pay parking hits the Fens it will impact on the town centre shops and market but I would think the out of town retail parks will be very pleased. I also assume that what you call on street parking refers to what is commonly called residents parking permits so how much do we have to pay for these and I note they will not appear in Mr Melton’s home town.

Didn’t Mr Melton when elected leader inform us that the council was so cash rich he didn’t know what to spend the money on first. I doubt the money from this will be ring fenced. It is just another way of increasing council tax and

will probably go on increased councillors expenses, higher bonuses for executives, filling the hole in public sector pensions etc. This will drive people away in droves. I would much rather see local markets and local shops in a community than some soul less leisure complex which is another of Mr Melton’s plans and no doubt retail leisure parks will spring up out of town as well. So come the local elections regardless of normal political allegiances we should remember who destroyed our town centres and vote accordingly.

J HUGHES

March

I AM annoyed to read in the paper about the proposals to start charging for the car park in March.

I currently only head into town to support the local businesses. If I’m going to be charged I just won’t bother.

I can see the plans dispersing current car park users onto the surrounding streets which will cause mayhem for local residents.

I understand Mr Melton’s reasoning but I truly believe it’ll destroy the businesses in a already struggling Fenland town.

C Johnson

Via e-mail

Will these parking charges include motorcycles?

IVOR TAYLOR

Via e-mail

WELL this is the nail in the coffin for me. I “try” to support local businesses as much as I can. However over the last couple of years I have been hard pushed to do so. Usually, I want something, so drive into town only to find that it’s not stocked, or “there is no call for it”, or it is ridiculously overpriced. So I wasted my time and diesel. I do very little supermarket shopping as I want to maintain a small market town, thus my attempting to support local businesses. However, what with the problems obtaining items, the high prices, the dreadful state of traffic queues when coming into the town, the roadworks, detours and my blood pressure, to whack parking charges on top of all the hassle is just too much. Bad enough dealing with surly staff, high prices, lack of stock when it’s free to park, but dealing with it all when I have to pay for the privilege is simply more than I can bear. So I give up. The town planners have won. They have managed to do what they started out to do a few decades ago, and that is to kill the town centre. They have modernised, pedestrianised and basically ruined this much loved little town. Now that people have to pay, I think they will find it easier to drive to King’s Lynn or Peterborough where parking is plentiful and cheap and there are many more shops and places to eat. Because there are more, there is competition and choice which means a better deal for the shopper.

Personally, I won’t bother to do the drive, I’ll simply shop on-line where I can be sure of getting whatever I am looking for and at a very competitive price too, and then delivered right to my door. I shan’t have to come into Wisbech at all and break my heart over what the planners have done to the place. I expect I’ll be able to read in this newspaper, and see the photos, of a nice empty town, once they have made it one giant covered mall, full of estate agents and charity shops. Lovely.................not (in the parlance of today’s youth.)

PAM THOMPSON

Via e-mail

INTERESTING to read of the councils ‘desperate’ clutch at the pay to park straw.

Whenever there is a need to cut costs or raise extra cash, councils only have one view. ‘How can we get more from the motorist? They need to think in slightly different directions.

What impact will charging people to park have?

Well the first is that there will be less people who will visit the town.

Secondly, those that do visit will not stay as long as they do now.

So, these two things will mean that all local businesses will lose trade, some may even close.

The money the council makes will be outweighed by the wages they will need to pay traffic wardens to enforce it, and lost revenue from businesses who close no longer paying rates etc.

They will also make our towns less desirable places to go, because as places shut down, boarded up shops make any town look ‘tired’ and run down.

If the council really wanted to save money, they should start by cutting all the money they waste, before they think of how to extract even more money from the people they are supposed to represent. Official functions, visits etc are a huge waste of our money, that are not vital to the existence of our towns. But you can always see them taking place, whilst in the background some very needy project such as the WI or help for homeless are having their money withdrawn.

But, as we all know. The very fact someone wants to be a councillor should be reason enough for them not to be one. They nearly all tend to be mis-guided, and unable to listen to the voices of the people.

Shame really, but as we all know. No matter what we say the ‘Council’ knows best and will implement it’s views, because we don’t really know what we are talking about.

Until election time that is!

DAVID FLETCHER

Via e-mail

I CAN understand the need to introduce car parking charges within Fenland at this difficult time of financial restraint but will the Council apply the same enthusiasm of making money apply some thought for those unfortunates who already suffer and who will be further  penalised by making Stagecoach and other local bus companies provide a coordinated time table that helps not hinders.

Currently a student whose course has been moved from Wisbech to King’s Lynn College, living in Chatteris has to travel to March to catch an onward bus to King’s Lynn. It used to be possible, until the new time table was introduced by Stagecoach in February, to catch a bus from Chatteris to Wisbech and the X1 service to Lynn and return, This is no longer possible as the indeterminate time of arrival and departure of the X9 service from Cambridge to March to catch a bus to Lynn is so unpredictable that they have to leave their car in March car park to ensure that they not only get to college in the morning but are also able to get home afterwards.

T C SHAD

Via e-mail

WHAT is there in the town centre to bring people in? Charity shops and cheap jack shops. Most people shop outside now and only pop on for odd bits. Everything is obtainable outside the town without paying. Are people going to pay in order to save 50p? Wisbech is dying, is this the final death knell?

MRS EDWARDS

Wisbech, via e-mail

WELL, to be honest who is going to care - our local government know what their talking about! All we hear about is how we should save our small market towns, bringing in new business, filling all those empty shops, bringing people in from rural locations, which in turn brings revenue to the town, support our rapidly dwindling markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Still, we can always go to the out of town shopping outlets after all Tescos have everything - they don’t charge for parking, I can buy greetings cards, electricals, bread and meat so I no need go to the local butchers or bakers. Clothes for all the family, bedding and all my household goods, stationary, music - need I go on. So we all accept that there is no need for the town at all.

Charging for parking will certainly bring revenue in, but so would business - its just swings and roundabouts. Well done, another great idea from FDC. If there was one person on the Council that really considered the benefits of a thriving little market town such as ours then they would think very differently.

ANONYMOUS MARCH RESIDENT

THE plans to introduce parking charges in Wisbech and March will undoubtedly mean less people from the surrounding villages driving to Fenland towns to do their shopping. I live midway between March and Wisbech and regularly visit these towns because of the benefit of free parking. If charges are introduced then I will drive slightly further to Peterborough where there is a better variety of shops. If the proposed parking charges were to be used to redevelop and modernise our local town centres, that would be a different story. At present the only ways Wisbech and March can compete with Peterborough are by being local and providing free parking.

L WOODS

Via e-mail

FOR years I lived in Ramsey (I now live in Benwick).

The reality these days for small towns is that the huge “shops” have taken an

enormous amount of their trade. Places such as the Queensgate Centre in Peterborough,

Supermarkets such as Tesco and out of town Stores like Focus.

So what did Ramsey’s Council do? Put up parking charges in the main car park behind the main shopping area.

Guess what? Yes local trade suffered. Thankfully, later on, after common sense prevailed, they took away the parking fee machines.

Does Fenland District want to make March, for example into a ghost town?

I hope they too see sense.

Yes they need to save money - why not ask the local people for the priorities they want and advice as to where money can be saved?

RON TAYLOR

Via e-mail

I FEEL the death knell has been sounded for the two towns mentioned, Wisbech and March.

What is necessary for a large conurbation such as Cambridge will not necessarily work for small country market towns.

What shopper in their will pay to park in either town when they can pay the same to park in a say Peterborough of King’s Lynn with attendant greater variety of shops? I for one would not.

Although the subject of Market Place parking has been well aired, it ably illustrates the inability of the ruling mass of councillors and their advisors to make a decision that actually solves a problem. Yes they can make one that raises more money from the poor public, but to make, and may I say, enforce a decision that will benefit both the town and the shopping public, is I believe beyond their ability.

Finally will the last shopper and shopkeeper to leave Wisbech town centre please work together to turn out the lights on what was and still could be a pleasant, friendly and great place to live.

JOHN DORRINGTON

Via e-mail

I WOULD just like to give my grievances on having to pay to park my car in March and surrounding areas.

I don’t think we should have to pay because this will encourage people to go out of march and that could have a devastating affect on local businesses I for one would think twice about shopping in March when I could go to a bigger place.

How will this affect mums collecting their children from school when they just need to be there for a short time this Could mean that cars will be parked on the streets coursing more problems.

I for one work in the community and sit in the car park to have my lunch and also use the public toilets so this will give me a problem.

I don’t think we should have to pay to park our cars we all pay enough money now I think the council should look in other areas to save money to help pay for the car park.

DENISE SMITH

Via e-mail

RAISING additional revenue by introducing car parking charges rather than identifying savings creates a perception that the council is being run by local government officers wishing to justify their existence instead of the council men and women who are elected to undertake this role in the interest of the council tax payer. Should this be the case, then how much of the additional income obtained from car parking charges will end up in the pay packets, bonuses and pension pots of local government officers?

The �2.1 million of savings that need to be found over the next five years by Fenland District Council could be achieved without affecting front line services instead of levying additional costs on the hard pressed Council Tax Payer if there was the will to do it.

If our elected representatives are mindful of introducing parking charges I hope that they will review current procedures at Fenland Hall where there are four spaces reserved for the exclusive use of senior councillors. If these individuals wish to have sole use of public property it would not be unreasonable to charge them �1.500 per parking bay per annum for the privilege. After all, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander when it comes to finding savings in the council budget.

COLIN ANDERSON

Ellingham Avenue

March

IF the Council Management were to have a reduction in their rather large wages and pensions and stopped wasting tax payers money on things like those lavender signs as you come into the county, maybe that might help towards the upkeep of the car parks. As for putting out tenders to the private sector I would say a big no. The private sector will run it on a shoestring and take as much money as they can from the motorist. The private sector are very pricey and their standards are not always up to a good standard. Sometimes the companies are miles away, so how can they make sure that the car parks are run as they should be?

When I was in March a while ago someone approached me to ask where the pay machine was. When I told him that March did not have any pay machines the man was very impressed and said that he would visit March again and would mention it to his wife and friends.

So, Councillor Melton, please listen to the people front he surrounding villages and towns. Not everyone has a convenient bus service. Please keep March, Wisbech, Chatteris and Whittlesey free of car parking fees.

B W NOBBS

Benwick Road

Doddington

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