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25 March 2008

Lib Dems call-in parking hike decision

Fellow members of the Lib Dem Group on the Council have submitted a call-in on the decision to raise and extend parking charges, including the cost of residents’ permits. The call-in has been verified and the hearing will be held early in April.

Among the changes to be introduced is an increase in the cost of residents’ permit charges in Zones 1-12 of Bath (all except the city centre) from £55 to £88 for a first permit, and from £82 to £130 for a second permit. Councillors in affected wards have been inundated with objections from residents. Apart from the inflation-busting increase of approximately 65%, residents complain that they have seen no justification for this increase and that they have not been consulted about it.

Lib Dem Councillor for Widcombe, Ian Gilchrist, said:

"I have received a huge number of emails complaining about this increase. I am very pleased to be supporting the call-in to try to get the decision reversed. There are parts in these recommendations which are extremely unpopular, but a common complaint is that residents don't feel anyone has asked them about this. I notice that the council claims it has consulted through the Federation of Bath Residents Associations (FedBRA), but that even Alan Morgan, the chair of FedBRA, thinks the decision needs to be rethought. What does consultation mean if you don't listen to what you are told?!"

Lib Dem Councillor Andy Furse, whose Kingsmead ward includes the some of the city centre and various churches added:

"One of the recommendations is to extend car park charging times to 8.00 p.m., including on Sundays! This will have a negative impact on people who want to go to the theatre, cinema or a church service; suddenly they will find they have to have pay for parking on top of the other expenses involved and Bath’s night-time economy is likely to suffer. Also residents’ parking areas close to the city centre will come under increased pressure".

Liberal Democrat Group leader, Cllr Paul Crossley has condemned the proposed changes:

"This is yet another example of how this Conservative-led administration is trying to make up for its budget deficiencies in some areas by hiking fees and charges in other areas. They try to claim credit for a headline low Council Tax rise, and then pile on the pain to residents and visitors through these exorbitant and unwarranted charges which will unfairly affect Bath residents and visitors compared to other parts of the Council area. We hope that this call-in will persuade the Cabinet member responsible to change his mind on these charges – and it will give residents, who feel they have not been consulted, a chance to make their views felt."

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