Freedom of Information reveals - for the first time- those 17 Fenland councillors who backed the idea of paid parking

How the Cambs Times reported there were 17 unnamed councillors supportive of pay parking

How the Cambs Times reported there were 17 unnamed councillors supportive of pay parking - Credit: Archant

The names of the 17 Fenland councillors who supported a business case being drawn up to introduce pay parking into Wisbech, March, Chatteris, and Whittlesey can be revealed tonight.

Using Freedom of Information legislation, the comments and responses of all 39 councillors to a survey undertaken by the council before Christmas can now be published.

All councillors were asked to plough through a list of possible savings and then tick their response.

Options were set out detailing what the proposals entailed and councillors were given indicative savings if measures were introduced.

Councillors were asked to consider each area of proposed change and then tick if they wanted to progress the agenda item to a full business case.

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•Three options on car parking were offered:

•Cease winter gritting to save £12,100 a year

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•Cancel leases for non owned car parks, to save £5,525 a year

Introduce car par charges to save £322,500 a year with possible surpluses of between £640,000 to £1.26 million a year.

However the only way councillors could reject all the proposals was not to tick any of the options, thus voting effectively to quash further discuss of all three possibilities.

Fifteen councillors choose not to pursue a business case for any of the options, seven opted for cancelling the lease on non owned car parks, and 17 ticked for a business case to be drawn up car park charges.

All 17 councillors supporting the business case for car park charges are Conservative councillors – six cabinet members and three committee chairmen.

The full list of those backing a business plan for parking were:

•Councillor John Clark (council leader)

•Councillor Pete Murphy (cabinet)

•Councillor David Oliver (cabinet, and leader Wisbech Town Council)

•Councillor Michelle Tanfield (cabinet)

•Councillor Chris Seaton (cabinet)

•Councillor Will Sutton (cabinet)

•Councillor Sarah Bligh

•Councillor Mark Buckton

•Councillor Sam Clark

•Councillor Dave ‘Boy’ Green

•Councillor David Hodgson

•Councillor Andrew Pugh

•Councillor Fred Yeulett (chairman overview and scrutiny committee)

•Councillor Michael Humphrey (chairman licensing committee)

•Councillor Ralph Butcher

•Councillor Alex Miscandlon (chairman planning committee)

•Councillor Florence Newell

The proposals for car park charges were later dropped by council leader John Clark after recognising he could not win a majority of councillors for the measures to be introduced.

Councillor 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. He has fought bitterly to keep free parking in Fenland towns.

He blogged at the time: “It is my honest opinion that doing away with our free car parks and introducing paid parking in Wisbech will be the kiss of death for our brave little town.

“Our small shops and traders have stood firm against every storm, leapt every hurdle, battled valiantly past every obstacle and – despite everything, in the face of everything, have not only survived but in many cases thrived.

“Our English traders, our Eastern European traders, our market traders, our charity shops, this is something which unites us all. An issue which brings us together, no matter where we were born or what the nature of our trading interests are.”

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