In response to my letter of two weeks ago Labour portfolio holder Bassam Mahfouz has been writing in the Gazette this week. Somehow the political assistant to the Labour group managed to get a name check on a letter that was clearly written in Mahfouz’s shouty style. Residents will be appalled to be reminded after all of Labour’s dramatisation of the cuts that the council can somehow still afford to provide political assistants to political groups on the council.
Getting back to Mahfouz’s letter let’s take a closer look. He says:
As usual with Councillor Taylor, he has not let the facts get in the way of a good rant.
If you are going to accuse someone of ranting you might avoid using twice as many words as them in your reply.
Mahfouz then goes on to address my argument, which is a refreshing change for him. He says:
The changes to CPZ charges in Ealing reflect the fact that under the Tories, residents who did not have a CPZ were massively subsidising those who did.
More than one in three households in our borough do not even own a car and it cannot be right that their council tax should be subsidising those who not only have their own car but also benefit from having a CPZ to park in.
The judgement in the Barnet case found that it was illegal for the council to raise parking charges to fund other services. If he actually looked into the issue, he would know that in Ealing the CPZ charges do not even cover their own costs.
Note that Mahfouz is asserting here without presenting any evidence. I have laid out my evidence and cited my sources. In my previous blog posting I showed how the council had argued three years ago that it was subsidising CPZ users to the tune of £500K – £1 million in 2009/10 at the end of the Tories’ four year freeze on parking charges. But, if you look at the figures in a little more detail it seems that most of this apparent subsidy is created by including £600K of capital costs in the running costs of CPZs. This is plain ridiculous. The one off cost of implementing new CPZs should not be included in any fair assessment of ongoing running costs. It is also worth noting that a pretty generous allowance of £500K of corporate overheads was included. What business in the real world would carry almost 40% corporate overheads on a turnover of £1.39 million? These numbers show that in 2009/10 the CPZs were pretty much paying for themselves and if they weren’t it was because they were making a ridiculous contribution to corporate overheads. Since then costs have gone down and income has shot up 133%. There is a massive difference between CPZ operating income and expenditure only it is a massive profit not a massive subsidy.
Typically of Mahfouz the last half of his letter is irrelevant to the CPZ topic I raised. I am happy to debate those issues another time but you can always tell when someone is losing an argument when they throw is so much material that is simply off topic.
On the central point Mahfouz doesn’t understand the numbers and the council is ripping off people who live in CPZs. Let’s debate it at scrutiny Cllr Mahfouz.