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Tory-Controlled Scrutiny Committee Ignore Huge Public Opposition and Endorse Tory Executive Decision to Increase Parking Charges

October 19, 2006 12:00 AM

The Liberal Democrat group at Wokingham District Council is disappointed at last night's decision by the Conservative majority on the Scrutiny Committee to simply endorse their own party's Executive decision to put up car parking charges.

The Scrutiny meeting was held as a result of the Liberal Democrats' call for an investigation into the proposed increases because of their concern over the potential detrimental impact on the traders in Woodley and Wokingham. This concern is shared by the public, 6,304 of whom signed a petition saying so.

Councillor Prue Bray (Leader of the Liberal Democrat Councillor Group and member of the Scrutiny Committee) said, "At the Scrutiny meeting, we talked to representatives from the business community, Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative, and Woodley Town Council, all of whom share the Liberal Democrats' concern about the effect of the increases. Their case was overwhelming, but the Conservatives simply ignored it. The Liberal Democrats are firmly of the view that if traders in our town centres are already experiencing difficulties, the Council really shouldn't be adding to their problems. The Conservatives, on the other hand, don't seem to care whether they add to them or not."

The two Lib Dem councillors on the committee (Cllr Prue Bray and Cllr Beth Rowland) called on the Executive to reverse its decision to increase parking charges, but the Tories overruled them. The Executive then decided to go ahead with the proposed price increases.

Councillor Beth Rowland (Councillor for South Lake ward) said, "It is no surprise that the Tories on Scrutiny just backed up the Tories on the Executive. The two Lib Dems on the committee did persuade the Tories that there were problems with inadequate consultation and that different options had not been looked at as they should have been. But that is small consolation to the traders in our town centres who have been let down by the Conservatives yet again."

NOTE: In May 2006 the Tories changed the scrutiny arrangements to give themselves a 7:2 majority on the Scrutiny Committee.