Monday, 16 May 2011

Tories ignore petition and increase parking charges

Firstly I'd like to apologise from the lack of recent updates. I've been rather busy with coursework and haven't had time to write much.

Secondly, I'd like to draw your attention to the disgraceful decision by the tory administration on Surrey County Council to reject an online petition 26,289 signatures strong calling for the County Council to abandon their plans for on-street parking. In this vote, surprise surprise, tory councillors who'd previously spoken out against the planned increases in charges suddenly voted against the petition.

I've blogged about the issue of parking charges before and it is incredibly frustrating to see the views of thousands of signatories on the largest petition Surrey has ever seen dismissed so casually by the tories. So, from now on we can all expect to pay 70p for 30 minutes whenever we want to access the town centre. Effing brilliant.

Pictured: people the tories don't think are worth listening to
This means that small businesses and shops will now find it even harder to stay in businesses as customers become fed up with high parking charges and switch to shopping at out of town shopping centres instead. And it doesn't help that the new time limits of 30 minutes will make it impossible to do any shopping other than a quick dash in and out of one or two shops. As I've pointed out previously, 30 minutes is too short to visit more than one or two shops before you have to dash back to move the car. Which of course means that, even if you're willing to pay the new, higher charges, you're still going to be forced to go to out of town shopping centres if you want to spend any time browsing at all.

Of course, the tories claim that these new charges will somehow benefit shops. Apparently this is based on the idea that it'll increase turnover in the parking bays - though how this requires raising the parking charges I simply don't understand. The only people who seem to agree with the claim that the new charges will benefit retailers is the Conservative administration on the council. Everyone else, as the unprecedented size of the petition shows, disagrees.

It's completely crazy. All the tories are doing is hurting local businesses. And when they fold, people will lose their jobs. If the Conservatives really cared about local retailers and jobs then they'd do what other councils have done and introduce free town centre parking, coupled with rigorous enforcement to ensure that people don't abuse it. But of course, the good of town centre economies isn't what the tories are interested in here. All they're interested in is raising a new source of revenue so that they can keep making eye-catching promises about "keeping council tax" down whilst paying for it by fleecing ratepayers in every other way they possibly can.

Now, I don't know about you but I find that pretty disgusting. And hopefully voters will remember this in 2013 when the councillors who voted against the petition come up for re election.

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