At Canterbury council’s Regeneration Committee on 21st January, Labour Councillors voted against the proposed changes to parking charges. Although the proposals contained some useful ideas, Labour felt the proposals were inadequate to the challenge facing the District.
Speaking at the meeting Cllr Dave Wilson said:
The most important question here is how the Council addresses the tensions in the different objectives the Council has: revenue raising; changing travel behaviour to reduce pollution and climate change impacts; and supporting our High Streets.
These are incompatible aims. The report does nothing to discuss what our priorities are or should be, or how to balance them. These are bigger issues than can be dealt with in a report solely about parking charges and we need a proper overriding policy discussion.
Of the three objectives, revenue raising for the Council ought to be the lowest priority, because responsibility for the under-funding of local Government predominantly rests with central Government, which could resolve our budget problems in other ways if it chose to. But the other issues – climate change and the future of the High Street – are serious, immediate, and affect all our residents and businesses.
Much more consultation with the business communities is required to meet their concerns. If we don’t support the High Streets NOW then there may be nothing left to save in 2022/23. We didn’t listen to the pleas of hoteliers expressed at the Canterbury Forum a year ago on this issue.
Not one of the identified aims set out in the report relates to Climate Change. Coming on top of the Council’s failure to insist on non-diesel buses for Park and Ride and non-diesel vehicles for the Canterbury Environment Company, this demonstrates a complete failure of the Council to live up to the promises made in the climate emergency declared in July 2019. We need a 10 year strategy to wean the Council off parking income, discourage car usage, and protect the high streets in whatever forms they exist by then. Until we get that, policies like this are inadequate to the challenges we face.”
In the debate Councillors George Caffery and Chris Cornell both spoke passionately against the decision to remove the amount of free parking available to the disabled. Watch the video below to hear their argument