County, District and Parish Councillor

Stop the Car Parking charge increase in Taunton…

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This is my speech from last Wednesday’s (19/02/20) Somerset West and Taunton District Full Council meeting…

On page 100 of the agenda item 4.1 it says “The Council desires to change driver behaviour as part of its Corporate aim for a low-carbon, clean, green and prosperous district that attracts high quality employment opportunities and encourages healthy lifestyle” continuing in 4.2 to talk about making use of the Park and Ride for similar reasons and I couldn’t agree more.

Clearly we need to get people out of their cars and the only way of doing that is to provide realistic alternatives.

Safe cycleways and footpaths. Low cost buses – Yes, reduce the prices of public transport and more people WILL use it, making services viable.

This applies to the Park and Ride too. Why not slash the prices during the day and actually get people using the service. Currently it’s too expensive for 2 or more in a car.

This increase will only penalise those we represent, together with our long suffering retailers.

On principle, many shoppers will simply go elsewhere, thus increasing their carbon emissions.

Many of our retailers are about to embark on forming a new Business Improvement District, investing their own money, “working together to improve Taunton”

And what is this council doing to attract more people to our County Town? Putting up parking charges!

A far cry from a local paper’s article from March last year, titled ‘Liberal Democrats Launch Manifesto’ which quotes a respected serving councillor as saying “We must reverse the decline of our County Town and would trial FREE parking to boost local shops and businesses” – the complete opposite of what’s proposed today.

At the last scrutiny meeting, we were told in no uncertain terms that the cost of running the P&R was to be covered by an increase in car parking charges, and a vote against this increase would be a vote against the district council being able to support the service.

During the election campaign, the Park and Ride was one of the most prominent issues discussed. The LibDem Election Manifesto dated March 23rd 2019 said they would: “Improve Taunton’s Park & Ride to make it self-financing.” Thus, this parking increase is unnecessary.

I’m sorry, but so many of those that I represent disagree with this parking increase, that I’m unable to support it.

UPDATE: Unbelievably, this absurd increase was passed.

I’ve since had an email from a director of one of Taunton’s prime stores, thanking me for speaking up for our long suffering retailers, but utterly shocked that a vote was carried, to bring in a parking increase at a time when the town is on its knees.

So can I please now ask that this increase be delayed, or better still, stopped altogether.

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