Yesterday Cllr Bassam Mahfouz, who is responsible for parking in the borough, backed down from his ludicrous proposal to make CPZ visitors festoon their car with dozens of 50p an hour vouchers in order to park outside their friends and relatives houses when they came to visit for a day or two. They have now introduced the idea of a Â£3.50 a day voucher – still horribly expensive, but a small victory for common sense. The current fee is Â£1 a day. Mahfouz wrote as follows to councillors yesterday:
Dear Cllr Shital Manro,
Re: New parking charges for 2011
As you know, at its meeting in September, Cabinet approved changes to parking charges including the range of permits for controlled parking zones. The level of charges was based upon reducing the current financial subsidy of controlled parking zones, estimated to be Â£750,000 a year.
At the last meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee I was grateful for the unanimous support across all parties for the proposals that were called in. Your committee did resolve that I look again at the cost of visitor vouchers within controlled parking zones with long operating hours.
I can inform you that we were already looking at introducing a cap or daily maximum charge for such vouchers and am grateful for the views of OSC.
Ahead of next weekâ€™s meeting I wanted to feedback to yourself and the committee on the outcome of the work that has been conducted in this area.
I am pleased to be able to inform you that the maximum daily visitor voucher charge will be capped at Â£3.50 per day. The cap and other changes to parking charges and services such as the introduction of direct debit will commence in January 2011.
It will be of interest to yourself and the panel that the CPZ Scrutiny Panel will be looking at options for other annual permits such as for carerâ€™s at their next meeting.
I hope you will not mind but given the interest in this issue and for the benefit of openness and transparency, I am sending a copy of this letter to all other councillors within the authority.
Should you have any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Cllr Bassam Mahfouz
Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment
There is a good deal of BS in this note, especially the line: “At the last meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee I was grateful for the unanimous support across all parties for the proposals that were called in.” Mahfouz got a good kicking from the Tories on the committee and the opposition spokesman Will Brooks scored some good points. In particular I suggested that the proposed scheme would make the borough a laughing stock and I proposed the retention of a daily voucher. The committee did see the sense of this proposal and it accepted the proposals with the proviso that this issue be addressed. The minutes say:
Upon Councillor Mahfouz leaving the room, a further short discussion took place amongst Members, during which Councillor Young proposed, and it was unanimously agreed, that the Committee uphold the original Cabinet decision, subject to the Cabinet portfolio holder giving further consideration to the proposed visitor vouchers charge, in particular the likely resulting impact on residents within Controlled Parking Zones with long operating hours.
The Conservative group don’t agree with ramping up parking charges but by opposing effectively we have managed to make Labour change one of the stupider aspects of their policy.