Time to flip the tables

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COUN Peter Jackson accuses the Lib Dems of flip-flopping over car parking charges (see Herald, January 19).

What a cheek.

It is not the Lib Dems who are flip-flopping, but Coun Jackson and the Tories. Just a year or two ago, as Leader of Castle Morpeth Borough Council, he was an enthusiastic supporter of car-parking charges in Morpeth.

Now he says he is against car-parking charges in Morpeth and elsewhere and wants the cost of running the car parks met by a substantial increase in council tax. He is ready to impose this on non-car owners, even though many of them are faced with meeting the cost of ever-increasing bus fares.

This is not surprising as Coun Jackson is always ready to pass the cost on to someone else.

As a Borough councillor he supported Morpeth residents paying car-parking charges, whilst he ensured that Ponteland residents had their car parks funded by the council. Whenever it was suggested that this should be changed, he and his Tory colleagues roundly opposed it.

What Coun Jackson did recognise in those days was the good sense of using car parking charges as a means of regulating the use of car parking space, so that those wishing to park can be reasonably sure of securing a place where they need it and when they need it.

That is why Liberal Democrats got the Town Council three years ago to support the shoppers’ permit. They recognised that it encouraged people to use the car parks at those times of the day when there was least demand.

It is a travesty of the truth to suggest, as the Tories are doing, that Liberal Democrats have been advocating the scrapping of the shoppers’ permit in Morpeth.

In June 2011, it was county council officers who recommended that the Morpeth shoppers’ permit be withdrawn, whereas the county council Lib Dem-run executive, when they considered the matter, unanimously retained it.

What is clear is that Liberal Democrat-led Town Council has been in the forefront of standing up for the Town.

This is certainly not something done by the Tories. Until recently, no Conservative served on the Town Council. Coun Herne, elected last June, has still to raise the issue in the Town Council.

I am not aware that he has done anything to honour his promise to electors to lobby the county council on car parking. This contrasts with the proven record of Lib Dem town councillors, who have successfully lobbied the county council to adopt a county-wide strategy, which is to be rolled out in the course of the next few months, as stakeholders in each town are consulted about future car-parking arrangements in their locality. Residents of Kirkhill Ward have an opportunity today to vote for this sensible Liberal Democrat approach.

COUN DAVID PARKER

Morpeth South Ward

Morpeth Town Councillor