Sunday, 21 April 2013

My response to an RA article on parking charges

I have been mentioned by name on the Molesey Residents Association website! This is a new move for the MRA which usually prefers to deny its opponents the 'oxygen of publicity', but the temptation to score a political point appears may have been too great to resist.

It is in connection with Elmbridge putting up parking charges in April and my manifesto last year in which I said I would try to argue for free parking to be restored in Molesey town centre if elected. I still think there is a good case to be made because the car park makes an annual loss as many residents choose to park in residential streets, whereas on days when there are no charges the car park is full. Free parking could help congestion and perhaps the businesses too, but the difficulty is that the borough council has to pay a tax to the Government for every bay it operates, whether a car park is free or not, and without income this overhead would have to be met from our council taxes (plus of course the costs of lighting and maintenance - enforcement currently pays for itself). As budgets get tighter the revenues from car parks (around £1million a year) are becoming more and more vital for funding the council's non statutory services like meals on wheels.

So I have to be honest and say that the prospects of restoring free parking don't look too promising in the immediate future but I will continue to look for opportunities to make the case. I posted a comment along these lines on the MRA webpage on March 22 but it has still to be approved (as of April 21) so I've copy n pasted my response here.

I want to correct some misinformation above if I may. You have a direct quotation from me above saying “Free parking for our town centre!”. This is not what I said. The pledge in my manifesto of last year was actually to “Lobby Elmbridge Council to restore free parking at the Walton Road car park” and this is an important distinction.
Obviously it is not in the power of any individual to repeal parking charges, that requires a majority view at council. My promise to the people of Molesey East was no more, no less, than to try to persuade the Conservative group to introduce free parking at Walton Road. This is precisely what I would have done had I been elected.
It is disingenuous of the MRA to try to claim in its recent newsletter and to some extent here, that the Conservatives promised free parking in last year’s election and then cynically put up charges. The Conservative group hasn’t shifted its position in support of parking charges: it remains in favour as this helps to cover the cost of running and maintaining them.
My view as a local candidate may sometimes differ from the group – it’s called being my own man.

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