Cirencester's naked revenue raiser

October 21, 2011 5:09 PM

For a long time, we were all fed the line that council parking charges were not merely another tax on residents but were ring-fenced for the purpose of improving the local transport system. Now Cotswold District Council (CDC) has done away with this pretence and is keen to introduce Sunday and overnight parking fees in all its car parks. It seemed a ‘fair way’ to raise local income, said one councillor, and ‘could net the council as much as £50,000 per year’.

Local business representatives were not so keen and put up a fight against the proposal, with the result that it was scrapped in all Cotswold car parks except one. ‘In the light of the economic projections,’ said a district councillor, ‘we feel that now is not the time to extend or increase parking charges.’ It is the last thing that hard-pressed town centre shops and businesses need.

Good news, apart from the one exception—the Brewery Car Park in Cirencester. This was thought to be a potential money-spinner and CDC still wanted to introduce the off-peak charges there. Cirencester Town Council, however, was not so enthusiastic and threatened taking legal action against the decision. ‘I hope we will be able to move forward in a positive way,’ said a town councillor diplomatically, ‘to achieve a car parking policy which will support the vitality and viability of Cirencester.’

Cirencester mobilised people power to fight the off-peak parking charges and local campaigners raised a petition signed by nearly 3,000 residents and 450 businesses against CDC’s parking plan—dubbed ‘a naked revenue raiser’ by one protestor—but their efforts fell on deaf ears at a packed district council meeting earlier this week when the cabinet rejected their concerns. ‘We accept the concerns of members of the public and stakeholders both in Cirencester and surrounding areas,’ said the Cabinet Member for Environmental Services—and then proceeded to ignore them.

Overnight and Sunday charges will be imposed, whether the citizens of Cirencester like it or not. Still, there is one practical consideration that could undermine all this. ‘If we’re going to enforce in one car park with free ones nearby,’ noted one councillor, ‘who is going to pay?’ Doh!For a long time, we were all fed the line that council parking charges were not merely another tax on residents but were ring-fenced for the purpose of improving the local transport system. Now Cotswold District Council (CDC) has done away with this pretence and is keen to introduce Sunday and overnight parking fees in all its car parks. It seemed a ‘fair way’ to raise local income, said one councillor, and ‘could net the council as much as £50,000 per year’.

Local business representatives were not so keen and put up a fight against the proposal, with the result that it was scrapped in all Cotswold car parks except one. ‘In the light of the economic projections,’ said a district councillor, ‘we feel that now is not the time to extend or increase parking charges.’ It is the last thing that hard-pressed town centre shops and businesses need.

Good news, apart from the one exception—the Brewery Car Park in Cirencester. This was thought to be a potential money-spinner and CDC still wanted to introduce the off-peak charges there. Cirencester Town Council, however, was not so enthusiastic and threatened taking legal action against the decision. ‘I hope we will be able to move forward in a positive way,’ said a town councillor diplomatically, ‘to achieve a car parking policy which will support the vitality and viability of Cirencester.’

Cirencester mobilised people power to fight the off-peak parking charges and local campaigners raised a petition signed by nearly 3,000 residents and 450 businesses against CDC’s parking plan—dubbed ‘a naked revenue raiser’ by one protestor—but their efforts fell on deaf ears at a packed district council meeting earlier this week when the cabinet rejected their concerns. ‘We accept the concerns of members of the public and stakeholders both in Cirencester and surrounding areas,’ said the Cabinet Member for Environmental Services—and then proceeded to ignore them.

Overnight and Sunday charges will be imposed, whether the citizens of Cirencester like it or not. Still, there is one practical consideration that could undermine all this. ‘If we’re going to enforce in one car park with free ones nearby,’ noted one councillor, ‘who is going to pay?’ Doh!

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