CONSERVATIVES BLOCK LIB DEM ATTEMPTS TO PROMOTE PARKING CHARGES IN SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Conservatives on South Gloucestershire Council have successfully blocked attempts by Liberal Democrats to promote charging drivers in local car parks.
At Wednesday’s Full Council meeting, the first to take place face-to-face since the relaxation of restrictions, the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group submitted a motion which sought to endorse a report on rural bus services that advocates increasing parking charges to plug the funding gap, going against the Council’s long-standing no charge policy.
Ensuring free parking in Council-owned car parks has been a long-standing policy of the Conservative Administration in order to promote and support local businesses and communities in places such as Town Centres and High Streets. Such a change in policy would impact on residents across the district, with them having to dip into their pockets when they previously didn’t need to.
Having welcomed the overall sentiment of the motion, the Council’s ruling Conservative Group submitted an amendment which highlighted the concerns and called for a more regional approach towards the introduction of more low emissions bus services across the West of England, a move that prompted the Lib Dems to alter their own motion, recognising the issues with removing free parking but still endorsing the report in full.
Following a brief debate, the Conservative amendment, moved by Cllr Steve Reade and seconded by Cllr Chris Wood, was passed without unanimous support from Labour or Liberal Democrats.
Cllr Steve Reade, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure, who proposed the amendment, said: “Providing free parking in Council-owned car parks across South Gloucestershire is one of the key ways we have been able to encourage more people to visit our High Streets and Town Centres. It was alarming to see Liberal Democrats attempt to welcome a report that would seek to introduce charges.
“While I am pleased, through our amendment, the Lib Dems backtracked on this view, it was shocking that they had either hadn’t read the report they wanted endorsed by the Council or they were trying to sneak through an attempt to scrap the Council’s longstanding free parking policy.”
Cllr Chris Wood, who seconded the amendment, said: “The provision of a consistent public transport network that serves all our communities, however built-up or rural, is something we all want across South Gloucestershire and we very much share the overall goal of the report which sets out to deliver that, a prime example is the role the Council has played in the introduction of Metrobus, which I would very much hope to see being extended to Filton, and I think this needs to be considered at a more regional level.”