I REALLY dislike political point-scoring and I know normal people (ie non-politicians) feel the same, so I try not to respond to rubbish as this only gives it more exposure.
I also think people see through hypocrisy immediately. However, when it’s so blatant I just can’t keep quiet.
The Conservatives’ policy is free parking everywhere - which is easy to say as they know they will never be in a position to implement it.
The reason is this would cost at least £4million per year which would mean deep service cuts and traffic problems in some towns.
Wherever the Conservatives have been in power in Northumberland they have imposed charges (and differing charges in different parts of their boroughs). And there is a good reason for this - nothing else works.
This is why there is not a single authority in England (including every Conservative Authority) which does not levy differential parking charges.
So Berwick’s charges (currently the highest in the county) were put in place by the Conservatives. Tynedale under the Tories also levied differential charges. The current leader of Northumberland’s Conservative party, Peter Jackson, pretends to be in favour of a free-for-all in parking, whereas, when he had power in Castle Morpeth, he imposed charges in Morpeth, whilst keeping parking free in Ponteland, (coincidentally his own ward).
Hypocrisy? Perhaps, or maybe Peter Jackson’s just forgotten? After all he couldn’t remember the giant wind turbines which were planned for his land recently.
Normal people want honesty and a commitment to do our best for them – not unfeasible policies which are designed to score cheap points.
I can’t predict what the eventual charges will be in Morpeth nor how they will compare with other parts of the county but they will be intended to secure the best situation for all the people, not just special-interest groups, however noisy. This is the administration’s responsibility.
What I am prepared to predict is that charges of some kind will apply in every former Borough Council area and in parts where it’s the right thing to do, parking will be free.
Isabel Hunter is the Executive member leading on this - she is painstakingly putting together the details of the county-wide approach that will take into account the different needs, challenges and retail competition faced by each community. We also need to make our towns the best places to live in we can – this means managing traffic flows.
We have taken a big step forward in getting, for the first time, the right to police on-street (as well as off-street) parking, which the police don’t have the resources to do.
I am proud that we are doing the right things for the right reasons and not succumbing to bullying or false bluster.
COUN IAN LINDLEY.
Morpeth Stobhill Division
Northumberland County Council