Re-think on new pay-and-display charges
PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 May 2012
COUNCIL plans to introduce car parking charges across 27 Weston streets could still change after it was agreed to discuss them again at a future meeting.
Two weeks ago members of North Somerset Council’s executive passed proposals to install pay-and-display parking meters across the resort, charging £1.20 an hour.
But Liberal Democrat councillors ‘called-in’ the decision, forcing the council’s scrutiny panel to examine the plans further before they could progress.
Councillors agreed on Monday to discuss the level of charges further and whether the final decision should be taken by the entire executive.
Councillors suggested the charges could be reduced to 20p for the first half an hour, rather than 40p for the first 20 minutes as is currently planned.
Council officers revealed the scheme is only expected to make £40,000 in its current form and setting charges lower would risk it making a loss.
Cllr Elfan Ap Rees said: “Given the option I wouldn’t want to charge anybody for parking.
“Motorists are overtaxed, but on the other hand I don’t believe council tax should be subsidising car users.
“If we find in future we could reduce or alter the charges, we will do that.
“When Cllr Crockford-Hawley put forward his proposal seven years ago he recommended £1 per hour and 50p per half hour.
“Bearing in mind inflation since then, today we would be paying more than our recommended charge if we had accepted his plan, plus an additional subsidy from everyone’s council tax.”
Cllr John Crockford-Hawley said: “I don’t deny that, but the situation has changed in the past five years.”
And Liberal Democrat colleague Mark Canniford added: “We are not saying we are against the idea, we are saying you have got the charging wrong.
“Cllr Ap Rees will point to the Liberal Democrats but it is just a silly nonsense and a smokescreen. The fact is the scheme is not right.
“This is a very bad scheme and, if you make it political, we will make it very bad for you.”
Opposition members said the scheme should be combined with civil parking enforcement (CPE), where the council takes responsibility for policing yellow lines.
But Cllr Elfan Ap Rees said: “CPE is very expensive. If you think £1.20 an hour is dear, if you have CPE it will cost more because you have to employ more officers.
“There is a whole raft of issues. It is a red herring.”
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