Tuesday, 13 December 2011

NWLDC Conservatives backtrack on parking charges

Earlier this evening North West Leicestershire District Council held its monthly Cabinet meeting.

The only agenda item which was of any interest to the vast majority of local people was Councillor Nick Rushton's report on 'Facing the Financial Challenge', particularly the section which was proposing the introduction of parking charges in Ibstock, Measham and Castle Donington and confirming previously proposed  increased charges in Coalville and Ashby.

But instead of confirming the contents of the report we were in for a shock.

Presenting the report Councillor Alison Smith (Nick had rightly declared a personal and prejudicial interest in the matter) announced that the administration had decided to drop the proposals against increased charges (which Cabinet had approved of just two months ago) and against extending chargeable locations (which the Portfolio Holder had presumably approved of just two weeks ago).

Now first of all I am delighted that the Tories have seen sense.

In the present economy increased charges were wrong for hard-pressed families and would have been potentially fatal for struggling local businesses.

But the question must be why backtrack now?

The answer, I believe, is simple.

Labour listened to the concerns of local businesses and families and mobilised a community based campaign against these ill-judged proposals.

Our spokesman for Business and Economic Regeneration, Nick Clarke, launched a petition which in just a few short weeks had gathered over 1000 signatures and was on course to gain at least three times that figure by the time of the February budget meeting.

Huge numbers of local people were rightly angry and Labour had given a voice to that anger.

The only responsible action for the Conservatives to take was to backtrack and I applaud them for realising in time that they had made a serious mistake.

The purpose of any opposition is to listen to and represent the often silent majority and we will continue to strive to do this over the coming weeks and months.

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