Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard secure FOI victory to name those 17 councillors who wanted to consider car park charges
- Credit: Archant
Fenland’s best kept secret will be revealed tomorrow – the names of the 17 councillors who signalled support to introduce pay parking in Wisbech, March, Chatteris and Whittlesey.
Although the ruling Tory group has since dropped the proposals – for fear of not securing a majority to push it through- the idea was floated during a spending review before Christmas.
Despite the idea not being included in last May’s manifesto, all 39 councillors were quizzed about money savings ideas and that included pay parking.
Seventeen councillors opted for it to be considered but until now their confidentiality has been maintained.
However the names will be released under the Freedom of Information Act.
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Last month I put an FOI request to Fenland Council asking for the names which will be released tomorrow.
The council issued an email to its members on Friday warning that the names would be released on Monday.
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“It was felt that you should be aware of a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request which has been received from the Cambs Times,” said the council in their email.
“Copies of the completed comprehensive spending review (CSR) councillor survey feedback forms from all 39 elected members have been requested.
“These are the forms at the back of your CSR Information packs that were returned on or around Wednesday December 2 highlighting where you thought further work should be carried out going forward to achieve the necessary savings for the council
“As this information has been requested under the FOI procedure, and is information held by a public authority, it must be provided. The information will be sent to the requester on Monday February 15 in line with current legislation and timescales.”
The charging proposals were widely condemned by some of the remaining 22 councillors were told pay parking could save £322,500 per annum and generate an annual surplus in excess of £1 million.
But many believe pay parking could sound the death knell for the local economy.
Councillor Jan French said at the time: “I think the 17 councillors should come clean and admit who they are.
“Not any of them are on March Town Council, thank goodness.”
Council leader John Clark warned after last year’s elections that although he bitterly opposed car park charges six years ago, the landscape for local authorities had changed.
“I’m not saying we will introduce car park charges and I remain personally opposed to them,” said Cllr Clark.
His comments came during a brief power struggle with Wisbech councillor Steve Tierney who has been consistently opposed to parking charges.
Cllr Tierney declined an offer to serve in Cllr Clark’s cabinet and was only narrowly defeated in the subsequent leadership contest.
(The FOI is expected sometime tomorrow and we will publish the full list of those who supported pay parking, hopefully at 6pm, on both the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard websites)