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Parking fee rise causes council rift
8:18am Friday 28th September 2012 in Ledbury
A RISE in Ledbury car parking charges has caused a row among the councillors who helped think up the changes.
As we reported last week, parking charges are set to rise in the town to the anger of many of its traders after Ledbury Town Council voted to put forward the proposed rise to decision-makers at Herefordshire Council as their preferred option.
But councillor Liz Harvey – both a county councillor and town councillor – has blasted the town council’s decision, claiming it will damage the economy.
Last week, traders speaking to the Ledbury Reporter said increasing charges would be “detrimental” to small town businesses.
But the town mayor Coun Phil Bettington, speaking on behalf of the town council, in response to Coun Harvey said “democratic process was followed”, adding Sunday parking charges had been dropped to help boost its appeal to visitors.
“The town council is apolitical and is made up of volunteers with the best interests of Ledbury at heart,” he said.
He added Coun Harvey had put forward “a spread sheet of predictions of car parking charges”, on which the town council car parks working party had then based its finalised proposal.
A party political press release from ‘It’s Our County’ by party member coun Harvey said: “It is deeply disappointing the town council’s first go at devolved decisionmaking has resulted in car parking tariffs for the town which are far more expensive, and more damaging to residents, commuters, businesses, and even tourists than the charges originally proposed by Herefordshire Council.
“By a majority of 13-2 they approved their own recommendation – the most expensive current tariff from St Katherine’s (car park) be applied across other town car parks.” She said this “proposed a worse outcome for local people than would have been the case if Herefordshire Council hadn’t bothered to consult them at all.”
Coun Harvey said town councillors had also not debated an alternative option which could have generated an additional 280 car park spaces per day by making Bye St a short stay car park and allowing all day parking in St Katherine’s, at a maximum fee of £3 a day.
Coun Bettington said the press release contained “inaccuracies”
and “unfounded accusations”, although Coun Harvey responding saying she was “happy to be corrected on any factual inaccuracies”
and adding she was not questioning town councillors’ sincerity.
A Herefordshire Council spokesman said: “The option put forward by the town council has, with slight amendments and subject to a sign-off by the appropriate cabinet member, been agreed.”