The Conservative group on the District Council forced through an increase in car parking charges tonight – despite criticism from the Lib Dems.
Chris Black said that he wouldn’t support increasing the charges now – at the very least, we should wait until after Christmas and see what happened with the planning appeal for Asda. If we lost the appeal, and increased charges, it could be a grim New Year for Rayleigh High Street. The expected extra income (?125000) was less than the ?150000 accountancy error in the council’s estimates for this year’s car park income.
Tory Peter Webster hit back strongly – insisting that if the council didn’t increase the charges, useful council functions such as the council handyman service would be hit. Chris replied that this should all be sorted out on the council budget night, not tonight.
We pressed Tory Leader Terry Cutmore as to whether any Conservative Councillors would be expelled from the Tory group if they voted against their party whip. He declined to answer.
Meanwhile Chris Lumley raised concerns about increasing the charges for the Station Approach Car Park . He said that if the charges were increased, commuters would simply leave their cars in side streets and block up residential roads.
UPDATE: We’ve heard that local radio covered this story on Wednesday morning, interviewing shopkeepers in Rochford who were very unhappy about the increase. Did anybody hear the interviews?