The vote to keep free car parking on Saturday afternoons was lost tonight 19-14. The Echo has a good blow-by-blow account of tonight’s meeting here.
In favour of keeping free car parking on Saturday afternoons:
Pat Aves (Tory) Chris Black (Lib Dem) Robin Dray (Tory) John Griffin (Tory) Angela Hale (Tory) Diane Hoy (Green) Michael Hoy (Green) Chris Lumley (Lib Dem) Christine Mason (Rochford Resident Party) John Mason (Rochford Resident Party) Toby Mountain (Independent Conservative) Cheryl Roe (Tory) Dave Sperring (Tory) Ian Ward (Tory)
Against keeping free car parking on Saturday afternoons:
Lesley Butcher, Phil Capon, Mike Carter, James Cottis, Terry Cutmore, Heather Glynn, Trevor Goodwin, Keith Gordon, Jim Grey, Brian Hazlewood, Keith Hudson, Gillian Lucas-Gill, David Merrick, Joan Mockford, Colin Seagers, Simon Smith, Mike Steptoe, Carole Weston, Barbara Wilkins. (All Tories)
There were no abstentions, though some councillors were absent.
Here’s a few quotes from councillors during the debate:
Toby Mountain, moving the motion to keep free Saturday afternoon parking:
80% of the council are Conservatives – we should be make decisions in an open and transparent way, based on proper information…. we should review this rush decision”
Dave Sperring seconded the motion. He pointed out that the reason why Websters Way Car park was busy on a Saturday morning wasn’t because of shoppers, but because of football being played on King Georges Field.
Ian Ward had been doing some research with Rayleigh shopkeepers to see how much they depended on Saturday afternoons:
“We have failed to think long enough and hard enough about this”
“This is suicidal for all of our towns”
“However hard our local businesses try, however innovative “Shop At Mt Local Is”, however good the Italian Food Market will be, it won’t counteract the loss of business from getting free of free SAturday afternoon parking”
John Mason pointed once again that the £65,000 extra income that is supposed to come from this is the amount of money that the County Council DOESN’T pay us for cutting grass verges – we should be looking to the County for money.
Michael Hoy pointed out once again that the £65,000 could be covered by getting rid of the £75,000 “Innovations Fund” which seemed to be a slush fund for emergencies. He said this was:
Chris Lumley spoke without notes but very effectively. He is the chair of the Review Committee, which met 5 times this year to examine car parking charges, looking back at data since 2008. Officers had advised that that the £65,000 for Saturday afternoons was only a guesstimate, as we had had free parking then for 10 years. But looking at car park income in recent years, allowing for inflation, increasing the charges didn’t really produce much more income, people just stayed a shorter time. He added that :
“This will have a devastating effect”
The only person to speak against free Saturday afternoon car parking was the Tory Leader Terry Cutmore. He said:
“We have a thriving night-life”
None of the other 18 councillors who voted for this were willing to speak. Not even Hockley Tory councillor Brian Hazlewood, who had originally signed the motion to bring this back to council, but later changed his mind and voted instead with Cllr Cutmore.