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Conservatives close ranks to push force through parking charges

December 21, 2010 2:00 PM

The concerns of local residents were brushed aside this morning by WiltshireConservatives who voted en-bloc to over-ride the call-in exercised by the Liberal Democrats regarding Car Parking charge rises.

Opposition councillors were outraged last week when the council's cabinet voted through a new 15 year policy on transport in the county, without the policy having been properly debated and discussed in the usual way by the relevant Select Committee. In a first for the new Wiltshire Council, the Liberal Democrats on the Environment Select Committee with the support of the Devizes Guardian member, made use of the little used call-in mechanism, designed to force the cabinet to rethink the decision.

At the meeting in County Hall however, the seven conservative members of the committee voted en-bloc to say that they were happy with the decision made that no further discussion was needed before the policy was implemented.

Speaking after the meeting leader of the Lib Dem group Jon Hubbard commented, "This is a dark day for democracy in Wiltshire. We have today witnessed the very worst example of the party line taking precedence over what it right and what is best for Wiltshire.

"Let us be very clear about what happened today. Today we did not seek to cancel the administration's policy; we did not seek to even change the administration's policy. Instead we asked that before adopting a 15 year strategy that not only scrapped free car-parking in our market towns and doubled parking charges in some communities, but also impacted directly on our subsidised busses and many other transport issues, we asked that the council's scrutiny committee should have the opportunity to carefully and constructively consider the policy and make any recommendations they see fit, in accordance with the council's principles of decision making.

"Instead we saw the administration brush off legitimate concerns worries about the decision making process in County Hall and claim that the woefully inadequate consultation that took place at some Area Board meetings was more than enough consultation.

"It is a sad indictment of this council that we are going to these changes forced through without backbench members having the proper opportunity to participate in the debate."