At today's full council meeting, I pressed Cllr Graeme Hicks on the proposed parking charges which would see season ticket costs rise from £195 per year to £600. I told him about the Launceston waitress for whom £600 represents a month's take home pay and asked him whether he considered such a price to be fair.
In response to my points about this charge and the rise in the cost of hourly parking rates, Cllr Hicks also claimed that his aim was to equalise parking charges across Cornwall. In the past, prices in West Cornwall have traditionally been higher than in the East. What he fails to take account of, however, is the comparatively high availability of public transport options in the West as well as the range of other services which are provided in West Cornwall but which those of us in the East miss out on.
Cllr Hicks was keen to stress his outrage at the amount (£5 million per year) which is taken by the Government in the form of VAT and business rates from our parking services. However he rather devalued his case by presenting this as somehow new. Cornwall Council has been paying these charges for many years and, after 19 months in post, one would hope that Cllr Hicks would have realised this before. For the record, I agree that this money should not be claimed by Whitehall.
PS - It has now been confirmed that the final decision on parking charges has been postponed. This was meant to have been decided tomorrow but will now go to the cabinet meeting on February 16th. According to the email sent to councillors:
"new evidence has come to light and it is felt that it would be inappropriate for the Cabinet to make any decisions on recommendations made by the Panel when all facts were not available"
No clue is given as to what this new evidence might be.