No car parking charges can be introduced before comprehensive spending review, councillors rule

City Road car park in March.

City Road car park in March. - Credit: Archant

No car parking charges can be introduced in Fenland’s market town car parks until a comprehensive spending review is carried out, which councillors are confident would prove they are not a good idea, it was agreed at Fenland District Council last night.

Cllr Chris Boden., Picture: Steve Williams.

Cllr Chris Boden., Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of an amendment proposed by Councillor Chris Boden, which is designed to ensure the market towns “remain viable shopping and business centres”.

It says: “To ensure no avoidable additional burdens are unnecessarily placed on the market towns and to provide assurances to residents and businesses, until FDC completes and properly evaluates a comprehensive spending review, no parking charges will be introduced within FDC owned car parks.

“Also, no disposal will take place of any of the public car parks owned by Fenland District Council.”

At the meeting, there was widespread opposition to introducing paid parking from councillors, who went as far as to say it would “kill” the towns.

Cllr Sam Hoy. Picture: Steve Williams.

Cllr Sam Hoy. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


However, councillors dismissed Councillor Gavin Booth’s motion that no parking charges would be introduced for the next four years.

Cllr Boden said: “I do not support paid parking. I believe a comprehensive spending review is the best way to demonstrate how savings can be made without imposing charges.”

Most Read

Cllr Booth’s proposal that the comprehensive spending review should be completed by the end of September, to “give certainty to businesses”, was dismissed, with various councillors describing it as an “unreasonable timeframe”. It is more likely be completed by next February.

PAID PARKING - THE DEBATE

Cllr Virginia Bucknor. Picture: Steve Williams.

Cllr Virginia Bucknor. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

A rousing debate took place on the issue of paid parking - it did not centre on whether or not it should be introduced, but instead on how best to oppose it.

Cllr Booth said: “We need to ensure we are open for business. If paid parking is introduced, it will have a deteriorating impact on towns and villages.

“It would drive traders out of town and shoppers to out of town shopping centres. It will affect workers who have to park in the town centre and could cause a potential loss of jobs. A petition against it has already attracted 1,000 signatures.

“Public transport is not good enough outside of towns so people have no choice but to drive. “Charges will undo all the good work that’s been done to revitalise the towns. We need to send a crystal clear message that we are opposed to them, to give certainty to businesses and residents.”

Councillors cast their vote. Picture: Steve Williams.

Councillors cast their vote. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Tabling his amendment, Cllr Boden said, even if Cllr Booth’s motion was approved, the council could come under pressure to introduce paid parking as a way to achieve savings.

A comprehensive spending review would be “the best way” to ensure the council doesn’t end up being forced to impose charges.

Cllr Boden said: “I do not support paid parking. I believe a comprehensive spending review is the best way to demonstrate how savings can be made without imposing charges.”

His amendment was supported by Councillor Sam Hoy, who said: “As a Conservative, I’m never opposed to gathering information and looking critically at budgets.

“But paid parking would kill our towns and damage our reputation as a council for years to come.

“Let’s have a spending review and hopefully it will come back showing paid parking doesn’t even have to be considered.”

Her sentiment was echoed by fellow Wisbech Councillor Steve Tierney, who said paid parking would “kill” the town, and Councillor Garry Tibbs.

Councillor Jan French, another opponent of paid parking, said, if it was being considered, it should have been raised before the election.

But Michael Humphrey said the debate around paid parking was a case of the “cart before the horse”, which had been whipped up by opposition councillors and the media.

This view was disputed by independent Councillor Virginia Bucknor, who issued the strongest critique of paid parking.

“I told Alan Melton five years ago (when paid parking was previously on the agenda) over my dead body. I still feel the same way,” she said.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter