Agenda item

Reduced Parking Charges for town centre workers in Bishop's Stortford


Councillor Wyllie presented his motion on notice about reduced parking charges for town centre workers in Bishop’s Stortford.


Councillor Devonshire seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.


Councillor Crystall responded to the motion and said he understood why Councillor Wyllie had submitted the motion. However, he felt it was ill judged. He said that town centre workers were vitally important but the administration thought that it could be done better. He said that the proposal had the potential to set a dangerous precedent to subsidise car parking in Bishop’s Stortford and that other towns may push for the same treatment. He said that the proposal had unwelcome implications and Councillor Hoskin, the Executive Member, thought there was a better way of addressing the issue but to benefit a larger group of people. He said that car parking needed to be dealt with as a whole and to provide a similar service across the district. A new proposal could address traffic congestion and pollution by encouraging car parking use outside the town to encourage active travel.


Councillor Hill said that the Council should not be promoting car travel but investigate alternative ways to travel into town such as free bus passes. He said that town centre workers parking in the town’s car parks all day restricted the spaces available for those shopping.


Councillor Wilson said that this was not a straightforward issue and could see the arguments on both sides. He said he wanted to see the town centre flourish and the work of the BID was invaluable. He said that there was far too much traffic in Bishop’s Stortford and was a failure of the District Plan for allowing development in and around the town. He said that the previous proposal promoted car travel and did not look at the bigger picture. He also added that the scheme was not means tested and the Council should look out for those on low wages in the most sustainable ways necessary with a considered decision on parking policy.


Councillor Goldspink said she understood the frustration of the opposition members but pleaded with them to listen to arguments for pausing and taking the opportunity for devising a better scheme that was fairer to a greater number of people. She said she would be voting against the motion.


Councillor E Buckmaster said that he had not heard a time frame for the process for the new scheme that the administration kept referring to. He asked for reassurance that if there was to be a pause, what the next steps were.


The Head of Legal and Democratic Services clarified that the Council were to discuss the motion presented.


Councillor Jacobs said that the administration were talking about a holistic approach to parking to improve the service for everyone. He asked what that scheme would look like and said the suggested scheme had been brought forward by the BID, not the previous administration. He said that he would be supporting the motion.


Councillor Deering said that the original decision was published in July, two months after the election and said it was difficult to see why it had not been thought through in that time. He noted the pause remark and said this was a developing trend from the administration.


Councillor Parsad-Wyatt echoed the comments from supporters of the motion. He said that conflating workers with shoppers with a wide variety of transport options and times was misleading. He said it was disappointing that Councillor Wilson had said that those on low incomes could not afford to drive to work. He said that what was missing from the debate was the safety implications of driving to work early or late. He said he supported what Councillor Jacobs had said about unspoken wider benefits of a future scheme. He said without any alternative presented, he would be supporting the motion.


Councillor Wilson raised a point of clarification and said he said many people on low wages could not afford a car, not all.


Councillor Swainston said she had attended the meeting with the BID alongside Councillor Hoskin. She said that the BID had presented a good argument but felt that it was right to review the parking and make appropriate for everyone.


Councillor Redfern said that adopting the proposed policy would not stop a review happening in the future so could not see why the scheme couldn’t be implemented now and amended in the future if necessary.


Councillor Glover-Ward said that the proposed review of the decision would be district wide and not just concentrated in Bishop’s Stortford. She said adopting the scheme could create a two tier system and the pause would allow the administration to carry out a holistic review of parking charges and how they work.


Councillor Devonshire listed some advantages of the scheme such as workers travelling into Bishop’s Stortford from rural areas do not have access to good public transport and would address the vacant levels at Northgate End car park. He said that the scheme would also help staff recruitment and retention for town centre businesses.


Councillor Wyllie responded to the points raised in the debate as proposer of the motion. He referred to the Leader’s comments about finding a better solution but he suggested there was nothing wrong with introducing this original scheme and implement changes later on. He said the Council had declared a climate emergency but the lack of parking in Jackson Square meant that people were going elsewhere to shop, increasing their carbon footprint. He said that if the town centre workers were directed to the Northgate End car park, this would free up space in other car parks for shoppers, thereby increasing the council’s income and helping those on low incomes who work in the town. He urged Members to vote for the motion.


At least five Members of the Council requested a recorded vote on the motion under paragraph 3.24.5 of the Constitution. The result was as follows:


FOR (17)

E Buckmaster, R Buckmaster, Bull, Clements, Deering, Deffley, Devonshire, Estop, Hollebon, Holt, Jacobs, Parsad-Wyatt, Redfern, Stowe, Williamson, Woolf, Wyllie



Adams, Brittain, Burt, Carter, Connolly, Cox, Crystall, Daar, Dumont, Dunlop, Glover-Ward, Goldspink, Hart, Hopewell, Marlow, Nicholls, Smith, Swainston, Thomas, Townsend, Watson, Williams, Wilson, Woollcombe



Hill, Horner


The motion was declared LOST.


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