I read with interest last week’s front page which was to be the latest instalment of Hucknall’s so called “parking feud”. Whilst I sympathise with many Hucknallites who have called upon Ashfield District Council over the last year or so to scrap car parking charges, I would like to bring a few points to their attention. The first point is that Hucknall’s district councillors are willing to engage in proper, meaningful debate and discussion with any community groups, individuals or business that would like to explore different options in identifying a resolution on this issue. Personally, I have always attended tenants & residents meetings and public meetings (Hucknall Area Consultative Group) where we can be held to account and answer questions from the public. It’s also worth noting that everybody will be able to send in their thoughts and priorities on services to ADC once the up-and-coming budget consultation begins.
Although the article is quite right, ADC do not make a surplus from car parking revenue, the authority actually makes a loss. It may also be worth noting if car parking charges were scrapped it would put a number of ADC employees’ jobs in grave danger.
With the above in mind there are costs incurred regardless of whether the car parking is free or not, including CCTV, drainage, maintenance, line marking etc.
Unfortunately, whilst certain individuals seem to think they’re on to something, by stating that ADC are backtracking by saying they don’t spend parking revenue on ‘frontline’ services, if ADC didn’t recoup some of the cost by having parking charges, this would have to be paid for out of the ‘frontline’ budget meaning services would have to be reduced elsewhere.
The second point I’d like to make is this. Hucknall people need to realise the financial pressure the authority is under, we need to make a saving of £1.3 million quid over the next two years. Since the coaltion government took office, local authorities funding has been cut by 60 per cent and with another 10 per cent cut announced in the comprehensive spending review in June this year.
That is the eye-watering reality. I am pleased ADC is on target to meet these tough financial targets but be under no illusion the council is skint. Having said that I feel we are still providing quality services and I also note council tax has not been raised since Labour won the district council election back in 2011.
We have also protected jobs and front line services, introduced a living wage for allour employees and creating apprenticeships for our young people. We have plans to establish a ‘hardship fund’ for those affected by the callous ‘bedroom tax’ and we are to build the first round of modern council housing this year since 1984. Surely these are all good policies?
Councillor Keir Morrison (Lab)
Ashfield District Council