Conservative District Councillors are appalled that Council voted to scrap Free after 3 and increase parking charges and season ticket prices.
The Liberal Democrat 2019 Manifesto made the pledge to: 'Make the ‘free after 3’ scheme permanent in Cirencester’s Forum and Brewery Car Parks and look to extend it in other car parks'
‘This adds insult to injury’ says Cllr Tony Berry ‘This Lib Dem Administration has put car parking charges up by 30% in 2020 and is now looking at a further 5% increase.' "Free after 3" was introduced by the Conservative Administration some 10 years ago and it works - it extends the trading window, it is an incentive for people to shop in our market towns throughout the day, especially during the dark winter months. It is particularly popular with pensioners and parents on their way back from the school run.
The council have used the annual budget consultation responses relating to car parks to support their ambitions, but Conservative Group leader, Cllr Tony Berry, believes that the survey is highly crafted, the multiple choice questions being designed to generate answers to suit CDC ambitions.
'There is no reliable data on the number of users of Free after 3 - the ticket machines are obviously inactive'.
He says ‘The responses cannot be seen to be honest or thoughtful, the budget consultation questionnaire is flawed, with only 432 responses, less than 1% of the total electorate, it cannot be used to draw meaningful insights or make decisions against. How is this helpful to businesses trying to recover from the Covid pandemic?’
Councillor Richard Norris, Tetbury with Upton Ward, made a sincere and honest speech to Council which failed to persuade the Liberal Democrats to reconsider: video
Councillor Berry concludes: 'It doesn't make sense to scrap Free after 3. It is an incentive for people to shop in our market towns throughout the day, especially during the dark winter months. It extends profitable trading hours and is particularly popular with pensioners and parents on their way back from the school run. This is the type of initiative which supports everyone, especially businesses.'