Saturday, 14 March 2009

Unjustified increase in car parking charges

The Southport Visiter has picked up the story of Conservatives and Labour voting together to increase car parking charges by 25%. They did this back in November. The Lib Dems voted against. Sadly the Visiter appears to have been duped by a bit a spin because their story begins by saying:

"The decision was passed by senior Conservative and Labour
councillors in November – before the true gravity of the economic downturn became apparent. "

Pardon me.

I was at the cabinet meeting in November when the Tories and Labour voted to increase the parking charges. David Tattersall and I both warned that this was the wrong thing to do in a recession.

It is not credible to suggest that 'the true gravity' of the economic downturn was not apparent. Earlier that week the Chancellor had made his statement and reduced VAT and had said we were in recession. The closure of MFI and Woolworths was in every newspaper. Unemployment had reached a 14 year high in the USA and Obama had defeated Bush. The British government had already nationalised one bank.........

Putting up the parking charges in November in a town where retail is a major employer was crass political and economic judgement.

Worse still it is not the first time that the Tories have displayed poor political judgement.

Why on earth did they vote against better links with Lancashire and demand that their opposition was recorded in the minutes?

Why do they gang up with Labour to throw out a million saving over two years achieved by a reduction in top paid officials.

Why did the give long time Tory councillor Les Byrom such a 'kicking' (his word) that he left and joined the Labour party! (Les played a national role for the Tories on Fire matters and led the Tory group on the old NW Regional Assembly. He also fought the Wirral parliamentary by election)?

Why did they suspend David Pearson from their council group and announce to the press he wouldn't be standing again-even going so far to wish him and his wife a happy retirement? (David, possibly the most respected and liked Tory Councillor in the town was made of tougher stuff and was supported by his ward and in defiance of the leadership held his seat)

The problem is if you try to hold them to account they get very upset and refuse to explain. Apparently it is bad manners to draw attention to their voting record.

I voted against the car parking charges.