Saturday, 26 March 2011

Tories vote to ignore parking charges petition

Some of you may remember my post from last week about the petition against the tory-run county council's decision to drastically increase parking charges. Council policy meant that if the petition got 20,000 signatures then the council was required to debate it at the next meeting.

Well, the good news is that over 23,000 people signed it and about 19,000 paper petitions were presented at County Hall. Overall, about 40,000 people signed various different petitions asking the council to reconsider.

The thing is that the next normal council meeting isn't until June - after the elections and when it will be too late to do anything about the parking charge increases. So the Lib Dems on the county council proposed a motion asking the council to debate the issue before then. All 13 Lib Dem county councillors, as well as the Residents Association and Independent councillors, voted to debate the motion. The Tories voted against and, because tory councillors hold a majority at the moment, they stopped the debate from taking place. The sole Labour councillor didn't bother to attend the meeting.

Now, parking charges may sound like a small thing but what we're talking about here is charging people 70p for a maximum stay of 30 minutes. This will be immensely damaging to local businesses. For one thing, half an hour is not enough time to do any meaningful amount of shopping and, for another, 70p is outrageously high for just half an hour. All that will happen is that people will stop shopping in town centres and go to out of town shopping centres instead. Local business will close and town centre economies will go downhill. It's an old pattern that has been seen again and again across the country.

But that's not the worst bit. The most offensive bit of all of this is that the Conservatives think so little of local people that they think they can ignore 40,000 people. Well, all I can say is that I hope that the voters of Surrey remember the tories' contemptuous attitude to people's wishes when election time comes round.

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