Into the Lions Den – Parking – A Public Meeting
In my role as Chairman of the Parking Panel I have a difficult job. It is one of those subjects that get people hot under the collar quite quickly. There is also no exact science on how to do it. You could ask 100 people how they would do it and I bet most answers would be different, apart from making it all free. Making it free is just not going to happen unless that revenue is made up, or cut from elsewhere.
Last night, I was invited to attend a public meeting over in St. Ives. I happily accepted, as I have always said I would meet anyone to talk about the current proposals. I knew it could be like Daniel walking into the lions den and with lots of hungry lions to boot. I took along the Head of Transportation to help answer some of the questions. I arrived there to be met by about 60 or so people. As I entered I heard the odd hiss, but that goes with the territory and I took that without offence.
The meeting was opened by the former Liberal Democrat County Councillor, Andrew Mitchell. I said who I was and what my role was. It was then time for the questions from the public. Many of the points were made on how we had come to the conclusion on the proposed fee for the Reserved Residential Parking Spaces; currently it is £450 per year. The proposed fee carried out by professional valuers had them over £800. There was a sticking point on how the valuers had come to this figure. This ended in an impasse on the model used, but I did take away many questions that the valuers will have to answer when they attend the next panel meeting. I am not saying we are right or wrong on the value, but this is the reason as to why we have consultations. It gives the public a chance to air their concerns and tell us what would be acceptable.
As you can imagine, there was some heated debate and emotions were high. I hope I reassured those who were gathered that nothing was a ‘done deal’ and everything could still be debated, and if necessary changed. I also told those gathered that I was here to listen to them and take away their points. The whole meeting lasted just over 90 minutes. I have to say that apart from the odd heckle people acted with politeness and we even got a clap at the end for coming to see them.
For me it was well worth going as I got to hear what people had to say. I also told them to reply to the consultation as it was really important. It would give me and my panel the true feelings of how the people felt. Many times people moan, but then fail to reply to the consultation. Only last week at the Helston Town Council meeting I offered to meet with residents who had attended the council meeting to complain about the proposed charges. I left my number and said I would be available, just give me a call to arrange times. Sadly over a week later, I still have not had a call from them to discuss the issues.
I will now take the St. Ives views along with all the other views that have been sent in and present them to the Parking Panel for them to make the final recommendations to Cabinet, and their ultimate decision.