It’s more like a shot in the foot

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DAVID Towns says that free parking will be ‘A shot in the arm for the local economy,’ (Herald, January 19) and that the Tories have identified savings of £4million a year to pay for it.

We have to wonder why Coun Peter Jackson, leader of the Tories on the County Council, didn’t put forward these savings when given the opportunity at a budget meeting last week.

Perhaps this is because they are not savings and that Council Tax would need to increase to pay for ‘free’ parking. This of course, would mean that the County Council would lose its one-off grant from the Government, a further £3.7million, bringing the total cost of ‘free’ parking to £7.7million that we’d all have to pay through increased Council Tax charges or face severe cuts in services.

But let us assume that these £4million savings will be in addition to the £51million over the next three years already identified by the County Council.

Even if this element of the Tories claims is true, wouldn’t it be better to use them on services that would benefit residents rather than free car parking?

Free car parking will cause serious congestion in major shopping areas and in Morpeth in particular.

Relatively few people will be able to find a parking space and the rest of us will be driving around looking for one. Those of us who have cars that is.

Car-park charging allows us to choose how we spend our money, free parking will mean we will have less money to spend. Which of these options will be better for the local economy?

I strongly suggest that other projects led by the Lib Dems in the County Council, such as the Morpeth Flood Alleviation Scheme and the Southeast Northumberland Link Road will make a far more positive contribution to our local economy than ‘free’ car parking.

COUN KEN BROWN

Kirkhill Councillor at Morpeth Town Council