A Controversial council plan to levy a charge for first resident parking permits (currently free) was narrowly endorsed by Eastleigh Local Area Committee (ELAC) this week by a margin of just one vote.
The newly formed independent group of councillors ‘The gang of three’ who defected from the Liberal Democrats in a blaze of publicity last week voted with Labour against the proposal.
Before debating the issue the committee heard from a local resident objecting to the proposal who described the permit parking scheme as a ‘Parking Tax’ and unsuccessfully argued that it should be funded from revenue derived from town centre car parking while pointing out that the new government had revised advice to councils on parking regulations .
The resident argued that the proposal ran contrary to the new guidance by linking parking policy to climate change strategy and by using parking charges as a means to force residents to use other forms of transport.
During the debate Councillor Davies-Dear, leader of the independent group, strongly opposed the introduction of the first charge arguing it was unfair that new entrants to the scheme should have to pay more for parking than their more established neighbours.
Earlier in the evening the former mayor of Eastleigh had also objected to another planning matter which earned a rebuke from Chairman Cllr Thomas who remonstrated ‘You voted in favour of this previously -now you have changed your mind’
“I have changed my mind on a lot of things!” shot back Councillor Davies-Dear .
He was joined by his independent colleagues Andy Moore (Central ward) and Dave Broughton (Eastleigh South) in voting against the proposal alongside Labour.
Prior to the meeting rumours had circulated that a Liberal Democrat councillor was prepared to abstain on the issue however with both the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council sat in the front row of the public gallery, the remaining five Liberal Democrats bowed to the whip and:
- Maureen Sollitt (Eastleigh North)
- Steve Sollitt BA (Eastleigh South)
- Peter Wall (Eastleigh North)
- Wayne Irish (Central)
- Chris Thomas (Eastleigh North)
All voted in favour of Eastleigh residents having to pay more to park their cars outside their homes.
After the meeting Labour councillor Brian Norgate was less than happy with the outcome saying that before last year’s elections Eastleigh Labour Party had circulated a leaflet warning residents that the Liberal Democrats intended to introduce a first charge for parking permits.
At the time the Lib Dem leader Keith House rubbished the claim telling Eastleigh News ‘This is total nonsense made up by Labour’.
The Liberal democrats also produced a Leaflet in which Councillor Wayne Irish stated that:
“There will be NO charges for the first permit. Not now. Not in the future. No chance.
In many Labour-run Councils residents face a hefty bill for parking ANY cars. Not here in Eastleigh!”
Councillor Norgate states this has proven to be untrue and that Labour’s leaflet had been correct.
He claims that the Liberal Democrats had already decided to cut free parking permits well before the election, a decision which if publicised would have been highly damaging to Lib Dem prospects in Eastleigh.
Councillor Norgate alleges the Lib Dems did not wish to admit the story was true and were deliberately deceitful to the detriment of the Labour vote.
He added he would be taking legal advice.