Parking decision a kick in the teeth for Surrey residents and businesses

May 10, 2011 5:00 PM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems
On-Street Pay & Display protest outside County Hall

Demonstration against On-Street Parking Charges outside County Hall

Surrey County Council's Conservatives delivered a kick in the teeth to local residents and businesses when they voted against accepting the on-line e-petition with 26,289 signatures calling for the County Council to abandon plans for on-street parking charges, in what was clearly a heavily whipped vote.

Conservative councillors who had spoken out strongly against the plans in their local committees suddenly voted against the petition. In addition:

  • One Spelthorne Conservative councillor voted in favour of the petition, whilst two other Conservative Spelthorne Councillors stayed away from the meeting

  • The Conservative Chairman of the Reigate and Banstead Local Committee left the room shortly before the vote, returning shortly after the vote had been taken. She had previously spoken strongly against the plans.

  • A further Tandridge Conservative Councillor abstained.

Lib Dem County Councillor Stephen Cooksey, speaking in support of the e-petition proposing the withdrawal of on-street parking charges, said: "After the Cabinet member for Transportation approved the introduction of on-street parking charges, I introduced a motion to this Council requesting the abandonment of those proposals, which Conservative members refused to debate. It has taken this petition of over 26,000 signatures, many other paper petitions, and the passing of the date on which local elections have been held, to be allowed an opportunity to debate this issue in public".

"The purpose of these charges is essentially to impose a new tax - to find yet another way of extracting money from local residents regardless of the consequences for those residents, for local business and for the local economy. We are told that by charging 70p per half hour, instead of nothing, there will be an increased turnover of spaces in town centres, which will benefit retailers - but no-one other than the Conservative Administration seems to give this any credibility!"

"In many parts of the country, Councils that genuinely care about supporting local economies have parking arrangements in market town centres that are free, but are accompanied by proper enforcement. This Administration seems never to have contemplated such a scheme, because its main purpose is simply to raise more revenue from Surrey residents."

Lib Dem County Councillor Hazel Watson added "These proposals amount to a stealth tax on motorists, will push even more cars onto residential roads and will threaten small businesses. It is no surprise that the on-street parking charges decision has resulted in massive opposition across Surrey and the largest petition that the County Council has ever received opposing the decision."

"Motorists will not be willing to pay and will drive further to supermarkets or filling stations where parking is free. Alternatively they will park on residential roads free of charge and local residents will be unable to park near their homes. It will mean less people visiting small shops and businesses that will threaten their viability and their future."

"This decision to introduce on-street parking charges has been made with no thought as to the adverse consequences to residents and businesses. A proper business case has not been published by the County Council for scrutiny by all councillors and by members of the public."

"These charges are not necessary to ensure that there is a turnover of parking near small shops. In many cases this turnover of cars already happens. Where there is a lack of turnover of parked cars, it is not necessary to impose charges, but simply to restrict the length of time for parking."

"The administration must listen to the massive opposition to on-street parking charges in small market towns and larger villages and abandon its decision. Consulting about the detail will not resolve the problem.The decision must be made to abandon the whole principle of on-street parking charges."