If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard ‘if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’ when referring to the pay of senior council officers, I would be much better off than I am now. So I wonder which monkey working for Canterbury City Council devised this little plan?
The council compulsory purchased land to the rear of Cromwell Road, Whitstable, in 1995. It then turned it into what is now known as Bisson’s Car Park. Residents who enter the car park to access the rear of their homes received letters from the council informing them if they wanted to continue doing so they would have to pay for it. Amazingly, someone thought it was a good wheeze to attempt to charge local residents £16 a year for a pedestrian licence; £122 a year for a vehicle licence; get everyone to sign a 13-clause licence agreement; and on top of that require each household to purchase £2 million worth of public liability insurance.
It will not surprise you to hear this new licensing scheme was not greeted with universal adulation. One resident thought it must be an April Fool’s joke. Another said the idea of paying £16 to walk to the rear of his home was “Pythonesque”.
As soon as the complaints started flooding in, the council apologised and promised to review the situation. A spokesman said:
We are sorry residents in Cromwell Road are unhappy. Our intention was to regularise existing access to the rear of their properties by granting access licences across the residents’ car park.
However, concerns have been expressed about the proposal so we are going to pause and take time to discuss the situation with them to allow us to find a way forward that meets the needs of all parties.
We will be contacting the affected residents in the near future.
What on earth does ‘regularise existing access to the rear of the properties’ mean? Sounds like a plan to extract more cash to me. Why didn’t the council discuss the idea with residents first?
There is a lesson here for all councillors. Never let an officer make a decision affecting your ward without you being consulted first.
The latest twist in the Isles of Scilly Council saga has chief executive Philip Hygate being called before its Policy and Resources Committee on 30th October to discuss his recent conduct, or ‘employment issues’ as they prefer to call it. But islanders will be disappointed that this meeting, which will hopefully touch upon accusations of ‘secrecy and poor government’, will be held in secret—owing to the ‘confidential nature’ of the topic to be discussed.
Among some of the ‘employment issues’ to be discussed may be Mr Hygate’s claim for 100 days of unused holiday over a period of 15 years, amounting to a sum of £40,000. Before a meeting last month to discuss this, the chief executive said there was ‘nothing sinister or strange’ about his demand. ‘You can actually view it as a great sense of loyalty to an organisation which, when I came, was in considerable difficulty. I was loyal enough to stay at my post and get the council through those issues.’ The Council saw it differently and refused his claim for back leave, saying its policy is to carry over only five days unused holiday from a previous year—not 100.
It was also last month that Mr Hygate was compelled to answer questions about the nature of his rule, as some islanders claim to have been living in a ‘climate of fear.’ Locals, on condition of anonymity, told the BBC that they ‘fear losing council contacts or jobs if they disagree’ with the chief executive. Home to 2,200 islanders, the Council employs ten percent of the population. ‘I think some these fears are, frankly, unfounded, particularly in terms of my ability to do these things,’ responded Hygate. ‘I just don’t have the power that some people assert that I do have.’
Concerns over his management style focused on his suspension of the head teacher of Five Islands School over alleged financial irregularities. This process had begun before even the school governors were informed of any problems. The Council has now re-opened its investigation into this case, as it had previously closed it without the head teacher giving any evidence. They had claimed this was because he didn’t respond, but the head teacher was baffled by this, saying: ‘I am greatly puzzled by the assertion that I was previously unavailable for interview as I have emails and phone logs that prove otherwise.’ He added that he had only heard about the re-opening of the Council investigation ‘via the press rather than my employer’.
Last month, Hygate narrowly survived a vote allowing him to retain his position as Monitoring Officer, a post entrusted with ensuring the lawfulness and fairness of the Council. Local members of the Heart of Scilly action group wondered at his ability to carry out both roles. A councillor said it was like the ‘captain of the team also being the referee.’ The Isles of Scilly is the only local authority where the chief executive is also Monitoring Officer—it’s illegal in all other local authorities.
Islanders can only hope that the subjects of Scilly Council’s governance, communication and transparency will be among many discussed at the secret meeting at the end of this month. We’ll see…
More bad news for Bristol Cllr Tim Kent, recent recipient of our Pinhead of the Month award. The enthusiast for multi-million pound taxpayer funded transport schemes has had to admit that Bristol City Council got it wrong when they introduced a costly stretch of bus lane in Westbury Road in February.
Thanks to the dogged campaigning of local residents, the full extent of this transport error was revealed shortly afterwards when congestion started building up as traffic was forced into a single lane. By July, Cllr Kent, responsible for Bristol city transport, conceded the chaos and delay caused by the bus lane and now wants to spend more taxpayers’ money on reversing its effect.
‘We’ve looked at the layout carefully and what we propose now is a further improvement,’ he claims, although one wonders how carefully they looked at it the first time round. ‘Not only will it reinstate the two-lane approach to the roundabout for motorists to help traffic flow,’ he insists, ‘with the previous lane markings reinstated, it will in fact slightly increase the capacity compared to previous levels.’
‘This bus lane highlights waste of public money,’ says mayoral candidate Geoff Gollop, ‘a bus lane that no one wanted, installed at great cost, followed by more expense to put it right, ending up with a more dangerous road than we started with.’
‘In a so-called attempt to reduce congestion and free up buses,’ agrees Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie, ‘we had the farcical situation in which buses themselves were being caught up in the congestion and would sit idle for long periods before they even reached the bus lane.’
With decisions like this, it’s a good job Cllr Tim Kent called time on his big idea to improve Bristol city transport—the Workplace Parking Levy—thanks, of course, only to the intervention of local protestors and the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
In the meantime, the mayor of Torbay is getting it in the neck for spending £20,000 of taxpayers’ money on planting a palm tree on a roundabout leading into the Devon seaside resort. Such an extravagance in an age of austerity, says a BBC report, seems unnecessary, but, to be honest, a giant palm tree is probably a good way of advertising the particular mild climate appeal of Torbay and has the support of some local businesses.
Where the mayor gets it wrong is that the expensive 20-foot palm tree, brought in from Spain, will only sit in the roundabout for three years before it is moved as a result of a bypass making the roundabout redundant. ‘The mayor’s temporary palm tree is another example of poor management when plenty of schemes exist which could benefit Torbay for generations,’ says an opposition spokesman. ‘If this was a 20-year feature it would be worth considering, but this is spending £20,000 on window dressing rather than tackling the real issues. It’s a complete waste of money.’
Hull City Council needs to find savings of £33 million over the next two years. As I have previously reported, senior councillors have repeatedly stated they will enter negotiations with the unions on reducing things like the mileage rate paid to staff, which is currently a maximum of 65p per mile – 20p higher than HMRC’s recommended rate.
The council wants to see the overtime bill – currently standing at £4 million a year – slashed; a reduction in the £2.3 car allowances bill; and wants more flexible working.
What the council is proposing is what any other business would be doing to reduce costs. Not only will these savings help the council balance its books, they will also help protect some jobs. The unions are not happy with this though, and it looks like they are digging in for a battle. In a post written in September, I quoted UNISON branch secretary, Adrian Kennett, who said reducing mileage rates to 45p per mile was unacceptable as “comparisons with cut-throat private sector and cowboy providers are demeaning and unnecessary.” If that’s what he thinks about reducing mileage rates, goodness knows how he will react in negotiations to reduce the overtime bill.
This subject was covered on BBC Look North last night. The report included interviews with Interim Chief Executive, Darryl Stephenson; Mike Whale, Chair, Hull City Council Trades’ Unions; and me. Mr Whale says tinkering with terms and conditions is not going to save £33 million over the next two years. Although he is correct, he is also missing the point. It will go some way to saving £33 million, and if he and his union colleagues are genuinely interested in their members’ jobs, they have to accept reducing high mileage rates and slashing the overtime bill, means fewer redundancies.
There are also some union officials who want to go back to a 1980s Liverpool scenario, and are encouraging the council leader to set an illegal budget. The unions are also planning a demonstration outside the Guildhall on Thursday morning when the full council meets.
I have a feeling this story is going to run for many more months.
The deputy leader of Cornwall Council has resigned, citing the inability of the authority to control public expenditure in joint ventures with the private sector. In an email to the council leader, Cllr Jim Currie said: ‘I could not leave local government with billions of pounds of Cornish taxpayers’ money at risk and on my conscience.’
‘We have wasted £42m plus on the unitary [authority], £42m plus on the [St Dennis] incinerator and we are now proposing to risk a great deal more on the joint venture,’ he explained further. ‘I am resigning from the cabinet today as I feel that I have pushed the cause of retaining council control over joint ventures as far as I can with the cabinet.’
The £117m incinerator planned for St Dennis in Mid Cornwall has been dogged by legal challenges, and a recent suggestion to independently assess alternative waste schemes was rejected by the cabinet on financial grounds.
The six districts of Cornwall County Council were abolished in April 2009 to create the present unitary authority of Cornwall Council, but the process drew widespread criticism—and wasted expenditure—when the public demanded that the new logo and motto be dropped and the old one kept.
As Cornish politicians have pressed for devolved government, along the lines of the National Assembly for Wales, the council is entertaining grandiose plans for a National Theatre of Cornwall, a National Library of Cornwall and a major sports stadium. In addition, Cornwall Council is backing plans for the Cornish to be recognised as a National Minority in the UK, and is pursuing a Protocol of Cooperation between the regions of Cornwall and Brittany to apply for European Union—that is, taxpayer—funding.
Cllr Currie fears that plans to part privatise services such as libraries, benefits and payroll—involving contracts worth £300m a year—will not deliver good value for the taxpayer. ‘The financial risks involved with the rush into the new Joint Venture proposals are unacceptable,’ he says in his resignation email. An independent councillor agrees: ‘You cannot forget Jim has been in the inter-circle of the Cabinet, and was the Portfolio Holder for Finance so would know more than most.’
Cornwall Council attracted derision recently over its incompetent rubbish and recycling contracts. Council leader Alec Robertson faces a vote of no confidence on 16 October while a full-council debate on the joint venture plans takes place on 26 October.
‘We’re in a situation where Cornwall Council is becoming a laughing stock,’ said the leader of the council opposition party. ‘There’s an administration there now which has this bunker mentality, it’s completely out of touch.’
Saving money while running local libraries effectively seems to be beyond some councils in Surrey and south London.
Surrey County Council is in a sorry mess with its ‘Community Partnered Libraries’ policy. Last year, the council told users of ten smaller libraries, such as Stoneleigh and Ewell Court in Epsom, that their paid staff must be replaced by volunteers to cut costs. For months, volunteers were scrambled in hopes of keeping their libraries open. In May this year, campaigners SLAM (Surrey Libraries Action Movement) took the council to the High Court where a judge declared its plan unlawful—it had given insufficient thought to the effect of the change on children, the disabled and the elderly. Surrey incurred legal costs of £85,000. Undeterred, it set up the required equalities training for volunteers. Then in May, Councillor Helyn Clack admitted that despite cost-saving being the core justification for the plan, ‘there are no expected annual savings as a result of the community partnered libraries proposals.’ The council has pushed through the policy regardless.
Local residents feel they’ve been hoodwinked. Says Mike Alsop, chairman of SLAM, ‘Library after library has come out and asked for changes to the policy so that they can make it work but they have all been ignored.’ Thanks to the council’s hazy objectives and failure to listen, policy-making for a key community service has ended in acrimony, making it needlessly hard to move on and develop a library model that can be supported by all.
Croydon Borough Council hasn’t done much better with Upper Norwood Joint Library at Crystal Palace. Outstandingly well supported in a district where five boroughs converge, Upper Norwood Library has been funded jointly by Croydon and neighbouring Lambeth Councils and their forerunners since 1898. It has its own joint committee and operates independently of the library services of the two parent boroughs. Two years ago, a party political squabble broke out. Croydon Council allegedly stacked the joint committee with majority Conservative councillors whose wards were outside Upper Norwood. Labour Lambeth thereupon boycotted two AGMs and Croydon declared the historic joint agreement at an end. So much for good governance in delivering a publicly funded service. Now, despite an earlier pledge to match Lambeth’s contribution, Croydon is offering an annual grant of £75,000—£112,000 less that it currently spends and £95,000 less than Lambeth. Campaigners hoping to keep the heavily-used library open have set up a trust to take control in April next year.
By contrast, Lambeth Council carried out exemplary consultation before giving the go-ahead in July to its ‘Cooperative Libraries Plan’ whereby it will continue to fund the borough’s ten libraries (and Upper Norwood), staffed by paid professionals. Friends of Lambeth Libraries chairwoman Laura Swaffield told the council, ‘We are delighted that you have listened to what we have been telling you.’ The council has even opened a new library in Clapham complete with medical centre, cafe, internet zone and community rooms, paid for by the sale of flats in the development. Lambeth is re-thinking the role of local government as the hub of a Cooperative Councils Network which, according to council leader Steve Reed, resembles a ‘think tank that actually does things’–including planning to reduce council staff by a third and office space by half to cut £4.5 million a year from its accommodation costs.
Even Croydon Council is thinking afresh. Last year it partnered with Wandsworth Council to put their library services out to tender, with three preferred bidders chosen. One proved to be Wandsworth itself, which plans to create South London Library and Cultural Services, a private company with charitable status. Says Wandsworth library spokesman Councillor Jonathan Cook, ‘If an outsider can do a better job at a lower cost then we will not be afraid to take the first step.’
In three years’ time, the number of councils in Northern Ireland will reduce from 26 to 11. This decision was taken after the Review of Public Administration (RPA). Down District Council is scheduled to merge with Newry and Mourne to form a new “supercouncil” with over 40 members. So far, so good. Reducing the number of councils and councillors makes administrative and financial sense, however this has not stopped Down splurging more taxpayers’ money before the reorganisation takes place.
The council has just moved to new premises, costing £11 million. It has a new council chamber, with seats for 23 councillors, but the decision as to where the new council will be based has not yet been made. Down Council chairman Mickey Coogan said it would be up to the new body to decide. “We have to look at accommodating meetings in Downpatrick, but also in Newry,” he said. “Newry is a city, there are a lot of council jobs there and I don’t think anyone is going to let those jobs go lightly.”
The whole point of reorganisation is to provide better services and save money. Why have councils meetings in two places? Clearly there isn’t enough room for 40+ councillors in the new council chamber in Down. Are there plans afoot to spend more money creating extra space for councillors?
Bizarrely, Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, has justified the spending. “I can understand why Down District Council spent money on new premises,” he said. “It created economic opportunities during the build and given the uncertainty about reorganisation, they had to make plans. I’d like to see councils spend money in the run down to RPA because that will be an economic driver. It’ll provide jobs, it’ll provide infrastructure that best serves the citizens on the far side of RPA.”
Spending money on new buildings and infrastructure, not knowing if it is necessary, is irresponsible, although it’s also worth noting Mr Attwood is also in charge of redundancy payments for those councillors who will lose their seats as a result of the organisation. Here’s me thinking being a councillor was something you did to serve your community. Apparently not, as those councillors who have served three or more terms will get a payment of no more than £30K.
Someone needs to tell councils, and Mr Attwood, we don’t have the cash to splash. Taxpayers expect the costs of these reforms to be kept to a minimum. Sadly, this does not seem to be happening.
In Bristol the sun shone on the TaxPayers’ Alliance as it brought together an impressive alliance of local politicians and leading campaigning groups to celebrate the defeat of Bristol City Council’s misguided Workplace Parking Levy (WPL).
Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie and Mayoral Candidate Geoff Gollop were joined by the TPA’s Chief Executive Matthew Sinclair, local Federation of Small Businesses leader Guy Kingston, Association of British Drivers Director Brian Macdowall, Freedom Association Director Simon Richards, and Bristol University Freedom Society head Jennifer Salisbury-Jones, as well as many TPA supporters. Meeting in Bristol’s historic Corn Street, they proceeded to College Green where they raised their banners in front of the council offices.
The dramatic climb-down by Bristol City Council began earlier in the week when the Bristol Post published a feature on the TPA’s battle against the WPL quoting a majority of mayoral candidates speaking out against the tax. The broadening support for our Action Day was too much for Cllr Tim Kent, Cabinet Member for Transport. The next day, he told the Post the unpopular scheme had been scrapped because it would have sent out a negative message about the city. ‘The City Council will no longer be pursuing the option of a workplace parking levy as a contribution to the funding of Bus Rapid Transit major projects,’ said a council statement. ‘Business rate retention is now a more realistic option as a funding stream than a workplace parking levy,’ said Kent.
‘I am delighted by that,’ responded mayoral candidate Gollop, ‘the Council has seen sense and realised how important it is that we encourage business and jobs into the city.’ Guy Kingston of the FSB was pleased too with the sudden climb-down, having campaigned for several months against the scheme.
‘The FSB has put a great deal of effort into fighting this measure,’ he said, ‘and we have been the only business organisation locally prepared to stick our necks out, stand up for business and risk the wrath of the Establishment. Our efforts have paid off and we are very grateful to the Tax Payers’ Alliance and the Association of British Drivers who have campaigned alongside us.’
But he added a note of caution. ‘The council have only dropped plans for the workplace parking levy in relation to financing their new bendy bus scheme. Of course, they could reintroduce the WPL again at a later date, next time they want to fleece the business community for more cash.’ For this reason, it was decided to carry on with our Action Day to underline the united opposition against any future tax on local business.
In the meantime, Cllr Kent was named TPA Pinhead of the Month. In a furious exchange of tweets, the councillor claimed that ‘the Taxpayers’ Alliance show how out of date they are—Bristol stopped work on the workplace levy scheme months ago.’ If this is true, Cllr, then how come you and the council didn’t bother to tell a concerned Bristol business community earlier? It would have saved a lot of anxiety. The fact is it was the united front of opposition coming together for the TPA Action Day that forced the council to announce it was scrapping the WPL. Well done to everyone involved!
When Labour was swept to power in Hull last year, the new leader of the council, Cllr Steve Brady, said he would be entering into negotiations with the unions over staff terms and conditions. As we highlighted in a report last year, staff benefit from very generous mileage rates of 65p per mile, and this was one area Cllr Brady hoped to save money.
During a full council meeting in July last year, deputy leader, Cllr Darren Hale, spoke about a reduction in mileage claims which he said would save the authority £1.4 million a year. In October last year it was revealed that not only are staff benefiting from generous rates of 65p per mile, but staff can also claim a petrol allowance on top of the mileage allowance of up to 11.3p per mile. A month later, Cllr Brady reassured us that talks with the unions were nearing a climax.
Despite many promises, nothing has changed, and now UNISON branch secretary, Adrian Kennett, has said his union will not join a “race to the bottom” as council managers prepare to renegotiate “generous” terms and conditions in an effort to save millions. He also went on to say his union had been asking council leaders to come forward with money-saving proposals since October last year. “Had they responded, there could have already been significant savings made”, he said.
So despite assurances from Cllr Brady that negotiations were nearing a climax, UNISON claim they haven’t received any proposals. Although Mr Kennett is correct to say significant savings could have been made, he is prepared for a fight. A mileage rate of 65p per mile, plus a petrol allowance, is unheard of in the private sector, but he thinks reducing it to 45p per mile is unacceptable as “comparisons with cut-throat private sector and cowboy providers are demeaning and unnecessary.”
Does he live in the real world? Paying staff HMRC approved mileage rates should not be controversial. It certainly isn’t a race to the bottom, and is something UNISON should accept. Let the negotiations begin!
Support is broadening for our Action Day in Bristol this Saturday against the introduction of a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) by Bristol City Council in the city centre. In the wake of Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie and Conservative mayoral candidate Geoff Gollop coming out in support of our stance against the tax on business parking places, more Bristol mayoral candidates are stepping forward to voice their concerns.
‘Bristol needs policies to improve transport in the city, not a crude tax on people who already have too few choices,’ says Labour mayoral candidate Marvin Rees. ‘This is simply a flat-rate tax on business. We face a challenge to reduce traffic levels but we can only do this by making public transport more attractive by reducing cost and improving frequency and reliability.’
‘Another daft idea from the Lib Dems,’ says Respect’s candidate Neil Maggs. ‘Just when we are supposed to be helping small and medium sized businesses through a double dip recession. Firms that pass the cost on will be effectively cutting staff pay by £20 a month. Where is the justice in that?’
Independent candidate Andrew Thorne hints at future problems if the WPL is not opposed: ‘If the firm owns the land then why should the council charge them? This opens the way for charging homeowners and tenants for parking in the future.’
Liberal Democrat candidate Jon Rogers is more cautious, hinting at a possible lack of support for WPL even in Bristol City Council. ‘Discussions are not resolved, as far as I am aware,’ he says, ‘and are also looking at supplementary business rate options, or perhaps even linking with city deal. These are sensitive discussions, and I would not wish to interfere at this stage.’ It has recently emerged that the council’s Rapid Transit Funding Options Steering Group, responsible for discussing the WPL, has postponed its meetings until further notice.
Only the Green Party candidate Daniella Radice appears to be wholly in favour of the scheme. ‘It will encourage walking, cycling and the use of trains and buses,’ she says, ‘and so decrease congestion and air pollution, and the money raised will go towards improving public transport.’
In addition to TPA Chief Executive Matthew Sinclair and representatives of the Bristol branch of the Federation of Small Businesses and the Association of British Drivers, Simon Richards, Director of the Freedom Association, will be joining the protest on Saturday, along with Jennifer Salisbury-Jones, head of Bristol University’s Freedom Society.
‘At a time when shoppers and small businesses are suffering from the recession,’ says Simon Richards, ‘the last thing that they need is the imposition of yet another tax on car parking. This will not be a tax on cars so much as a tax on jobs. It is madness and must be scrapped. It’s time for councils to start living within their means – as ordinary people have to do – and to call a halt to penal anti-business measures which will destroy businesses and jobs.’
TPA supporters are encouraged to join our fellow protestors in Bristol on Saturday 29th when we will meet promptly at The Nails in Corn Street at 11.00am for a group photograph before collecting signatures.
A Swindon TPA supporter draws our attention to the continuing farce of Croft School. As pupils enter the new school, they find it is still largely a building site—and one that is estimated to cost Swindon taxpayers a further £700,000 at least.
Swindon Borough Council blame the delay in finishing the primary school next to Croft Sports Centre on delays in getting planning approval. They originally meant to spend £4.5m, but now expect to take £500,000 from their contingency fund and a further £200,000 from their capital budget. A council spokesman also blamed groundworks problems caused by the wet summer as well as the additional cost of fencing off the building site to protect pupils and staff.
Croft School is just one of several delayed council building projects in Swindon. ‘We’re terribly bad at giving reasonable answers when things should be completed so we make ourselves look bad,’ says one councillor. ‘It does seem to be a Swindon habit to underestimate the time it’s going to take and, blow me, get the time wrong. It’s just as well we didn’t run the Olympics.’
Croft School is the first to be built under the council’s pioneering ‘modular class solutions design’. Swindon is trying to sell the design to other authorities on the basis that it is a third cheaper to construct than traditional schools, quicker to build and cheaper to run. Oh dear! But the council says the ongoing delays have nothing at all to do with the revolutionary new design. No—maybe it’s to do with the council itself?
Certainly local taxpayers are unimpressed by their track record. ‘Let’s not forget the £1m spent on the construction and administration of a 60-pupil temporary school sited at the Croft,’ recalls one resident, ‘which opened with 11 pupils and closed with 15. And sat empty on the site for almost eight months.’ The temporary school was not needed, claims locals, but went ahead purely as a ‘Trojan horse’ to ensure that planning permission would be granted for the 420-pupil Croft School, as the temporary school justified the site as previously developed land. And yet the council is now blaming delays in planning approval for the overspend…
‘So now we know why services, like repairing street light failures are not a priority as the kitty is becoming so bare,’ says another Swindon resident. ‘We have had four vital street lights out since June 15th! How come they can summon up extra cash for this fiasco and yet cannot do the services we should all expect as council taxpayers?’
Talking of switched off lights, nearby Somerset County Council is determined to press ahead with plans to turn off local streetlights in order to save £120,000 in electricity fees. The only problem is it’s going to cost £775,000 to do it! Another excellent use of taxpayers’ money?
Life is hard enough for independent high street traders, and as you struggle to keep your business going the last thing you need is your council making life harder for you. Unfortunately, for traders in Goldthorpe, this is exactly what Barnsley Council has done.
Traders have been in a dispute with the council over roadworks along Barnsley and Doncaster Road. Shoppers have found it difficult to get past barriers, and trade has dropped off. Some businesses have closed, and others have had make staff redundant. To add a final nail in the coffin, the council now intends to turn the Barnsley and Doncaster Road into a clearway which will be enforced by cameras. Amazing how councils claim they don’t have any money, but always seem to manage to find spare cash for so-called improvement schemes that people don’t want, and cameras to enforce parking restrictions no-one wants either.
Mick Branford who runs a furniture store had to lay-off his last member of staff. He had this to say.
I stopped deliveries in March. Parking has been impossible and now there are plans to make the road a clearway I think it’s time to go. You can’t walk far with heavy furniture
Mr Branford is not the only one to say this. Terry Walton who runs a DIY shop said several people have had enough and packed up already. It’s just too much. The work was supposed to have been all done by now.
There’s nothing that can be done about the roadworks and the trade lost through them, although the council has allowed the roadworks to carry on for longer than they should have done and has to take some responsibility. Unless it intends to kill of trade completely, it should listen to the concerns of traders and shoppers. The council is there to serve the local community, and the wall of silence and indifference it is showing to those who are trying to make an honest living is making an appalling situation even worse.