On-Street Parking – Tories Refuse Debate, Despite Massive Public Outcry
At the Surrey County Council meeting today Conservative Councillors blocked debate on a motion from the Liberal Democrats recommending that the County Council's on-street parking scheme be withdrawn.
Every Conservative Councillor present, in a roll call vote, spoke in support of a procedural device proposed by the Conservative Leader which prevented the issue being debated.
"The decision was taken in the full knowledge that over 40,000 people have signed petitions which effectively supported the motion", said Lib Dem County Councillor Stephen Cooksey (Dorking and the Holmwoods), who had tabled the motion.
"The new on-street parking charges, which will cost residents up to 70p for half an hour, will discourage visits to local shops which are already suffering from the recession. It will inconvenience local people and put even more pressure on residential streets.
"There is massive opposition to these proposals, but rather than face the criticism in a public debate, the Conservatives have chosen to hide away and stifle debate until after the coming local elections when they know this policy will be very unpopular."
Caterham Hill Lib Dem County Councillor John Orrick, who seconded the motion, added: "Refusing to debate is a cowardly action which indicates quite clearly how insecure their argument is and demonstrates to Surrey residents that they are unprepared to listen to criticism once they have made a decision."
A. The motion being proposed was:
Notes that the Cabinet is proposing to introduce new on-street charges for car parking bays in market towns and rural villages throughout Surrey.
Recognises that on-street car parking charges would:
1. further disadvantage local retailers at a time of economic difficulty;
2. increase car parking congestion in residential roads close to town and village centres;
3. inconvenience local people seeking a brief parking period to visit a cashpoint, collect a parcel or a prescription or make a simple purchase.
Resolves to request that the Cabinet re-consider its proposal to introduce new on-street charges for car parking bays in market towns and rural villages with a view to abandoning them forthwith.
B. Over 23,000 people have signed the online petition against the on-street parking plans at: http://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/ParkingCharges/ In addition paper petitions totalling about 19,000 names were presented at County Hall yesterday.
C. Surrey County Council's petition scheme requires that a future meeting of County Council debates the petitions, as over 20,000 signatures have been collected. The next normal meeting of Council is after the Borough and District Elections and Council AGM on 14 June.
D. All 13 Liberal Democrat County Councillors recorded their votes to debate on-street parking, as did the whole of the Residents Association and Independents Group. The one Labour County Councillor was not present.
E. All the Conservative County Councillors present recorded their vote not to debate the issue.