In June, I wrote about a local campaign in Winslow, Buckinghamshire to stop the introduction of parking charges in one of the town’s car parks.
Last year, Aylesbury Vale District Council announced plans to introduce parking charges in Greyhound Lane Car Park. A petition opposing these charges was organised by a local resident, the indomitable Ruth Ash. Ruth had never been involved in political campaigning before, but she knew parking charges would have a negative effect on her community. Although she was told to forget it as she would never win, she set about collecting signatures, and managed to get 2186 people to sign her petition – over half of Winslow’s adult population.
It has been a long and rocky road, however thanks to her determination and tenacity she has achieved a remarkable victory, and parking will remain free until 2018. It should have been obvious to councillors and council officers that charges would drive business elsewhere. Instead the wheels of bureaucracy moved at just about the slowest pace they could as consultations and enquiries took place. It will be interesting to find out how much all of this has cost taxpayers in AVDC, and this is something I will be enquiring after.
In recent months I have highlighted campaigns across the country where local people have stood up against their councils on this issue. In Salisbury, where local traders told of a dramatic fall in business after charges were increased, the local newspaper led the campaign. It was the same story in Northumberland, but I have not come across a campaign that has been so successful and organised by just one person. Ruth is a modest lady who doesn’t want the credit, but as I told her, she deserves it, as without her hard work the council would have go its way, and her town would have been poorer as a result.
I hope this story serves as a catalyst to others around the country. It is possible to take on your council and win. This story has proven it.