Car park charges and whelk stalls – a councillor comments

From the blog of East Devon Alliance Sidmouth Rural Councillor John Loudoun, who comments:

  • “I attended last evening’s District Council Cabinet meeting to join 23 other Councillors in voicing our opposition to the proposed increases in parching fees at some car parks and changes to the number of publicly available spaces at others.
  • In particular I was concerned about the proposals as they will detrimentally affect the car parks in Sidbury and Temple Street, as well as the Ham East, Ham West, Roxburgh and Mill Street car parks.
  • The meeting ended up in a farce as the Cabinet carried out a Dutch auction when it came to trying to agree by how much it would increase the parking fees. It was no way to run a whelk stall!”

“Last evening the District Council’s Cabinet met to consider a much-trailed report on changes to car parking arrangements and fees across East Devon. Those of us who are not Cabinet members, about 48 of us, are able to attend and make comments on any of the issues under consideration.

In total 24 non-Cabinet District Councillors spoke on this issue. Because there were so many of us wanting to speak, we were restricted to only two minutes to say what we wanted to.

Before any of us spoke we heard from two members of the public, one of who was James McClean who owns Sidmouth Pets in Temple street who made an impassioned set of arguments as to why the Temple Street car park should not be changed from a free car park to a pay and display one. James is collecting signatures, so please pop in and sign his petition.

I spoke out against the proposal to increase the price of parking in Sidmouth’s Ham East, Ham West, Roxburgh and Mill Street car parks. The proposal is to encourage drivers to use the Manor Road car park instead as it will remain at the current fee.

Not only might an increase, of, as proposed 50% mean that less people use our car parks, but this could lead to less people shopping in Sidmouth. Sidmouth and its traders don’t need this as the shops across Sidmouth and other local high streets are struggling.

It could also mean that drivers might decide to use the private car park opposite the Bedford Hotel as its closer to the town centre than the Manor Road car park is.

I also spoke against the proposal to turn Sidbury’s small free car park to one where only permit holders or residents who have paid for a reserved space can park there. This is a ridiculous proposal! The car park is well used every day and also during many evenings.

It is used to visit our two shops, our Church our Village Hall, our Parish Rooms and Sidbury Primary School. Without our free car park visitors to all of these venues would be forced to clog up Ridgeway, park on the A375 making access through the village even more difficult, or park in other parts of the village where residents will be hugely inconvenienced.

Sidbury’s car park is also used by many who live in the centre of the village and who either don’t have either off road parking spaces or have space outside or nearer to their homes.

After all of the 24 non-Cabinet members had spoken the Cabinet then debated the proposals. Oh dear! This turned into a complete farce as different Cabinet members proposed various amendments to the proposals and the Leader, Ben Ingham, who was chairing the meeting, totally failed to keep control of the discussions and in so doing added to what was already a confusing Cabinet debate.

After what seemed to be forever, the Cabinet, although not by a unanimous vote supported a set of slightly amended proposals keeping the intent to increase parking fees, although by not quite as much, in all the various car parks identified. The Cabinet settled on a 20% increase in these car parks after the Leader had in effect carried out a Dutch auction with numbers appearing to be plucked out of the air.

This was no way to make decisions which include increasing parking fees. Instead of pulling the report and reviewing it in light of the total opposition of the 24 Councillors who spoke against the proposals we ended up with a set of Cabinet decisions taken through a bidding process.

This matter will not end here. The Cabinet Minutes which will record last evening’s decisions on car parking will be presented to Full Council on 23 October. Councillor’s will have the opportunity to challenge the Minute and even vote against it, thus rescinding the decisions made by Cabinet.

Members of the public too can attend the Full Council and put across their points of view on this and any other matter.

Alternatively, a Motion could come from a Councillor which calls for the car parking proposals to be scrapped. This is set to run for a while longer!

If you are interested in reading the full proposals that were discussed last evening at Cabinet follow this link –

Click to access Car%20Parking%20Tariff%20Review%20-%20Careful%20Choices.pdf

“Town Hall Rich List 2017-18”

“In 2017-18:

There were at least 2,441 council employees who received total remuneration in excess of £100,000. That’s 135 more than in 2016-17.

607 council employees earned over £150,000.

A total of 28 local authority employees received remuneration in excess of a quarter of a million pounds in 2017-18.

The local authority with the greatest number of employees receiving remuneration in excess of £100,000 was Essex council with 55 employees in total earning over this amount. Essex also had the highest number of employees earning over £150,000 at 13.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) presents the Twelfth Town Hall Rich List, the only comprehensive list of its kind, with council-by-council breakdown.

Praised in the past by politicians from across different political parties, it is the go-to guide for local government executive pay deals. It details the full remuneration and many of the names of all local council employees whose remuneration exceeds £100,000.

Many senior managers at local authorities have performed well in tough financial times. There are many reports of residents seeing no difference in the services they receive despite the necessary savings being made. However, the Town Hall Rich List also showcases the executives who have overseen failing departments, or received bumper pay-offs after poor performance in the job.

The research is a vital tool for taxpayers wanting to judge which authorities are delivering the best value for money.”

Full report here:

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/taxpayersalliance/pages/16524/attachments/original/1555592082/Town_Hall_Rich_List_2019.pdf?1555592082

Data – alphabetical by council:
https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/taxpayersalliance/pages/16524/attachments/original/1555590752/Town_Hall_Rich_List_2019.xlsx?1555590752

“RIBA slams moves to extend permitted development rights”

“The government’s ambition to simplify the country’s planning system will be wrecked by ministers’ determination to persist with extending permitted development rights, the RIBA has warned.

Alongside a number of other housing initiatives announced earlier this week, including plans to change energy regulations and introduce a new housebuilding standard, the housing secretary Robert Jenrick said the government would be looking to reform the planning system, “making it faster and more efficient for everyone, from households to large developers”.

The government wants to allow homes to be built above existing properties and is seeking views on demolishing old commercial buildings for new housing, a move it claimed would revitalise high streets in the process.

An accelerated green paper on planning reforms will be published next month, outlining ministers’ thinking.

But the RIBA president Alan Jones pointed to a “huge contradiction” at the heart of the government’s ambitions and said moves to create “a planning system that works for society would be undermined by the proposal to extend permitted development rights”.

Jones said the RIBA said it would continue to urge the government to reconsider its plans, since these “would only lead to more homes that sidestep vital quality and environmental standards and inhibit any plans to incite a ‘green housing revolution’”.

The architects’ trade body has been a vociferous critic of those developers who used permitted development rights to turn redundant office and commercial space into residential properties, many of which do not meet minimum space standards.

It backed a Children’s Commissioner report, published in August, which the RIBA said provided “further evidence of the damaging effect that current regulations have on people, including families with children, who end up living in these poor-quality homes, often through no choice of their own”.

Other organisations have warned that prolific use of permitted development rights to convert offices and warehousing space into homes would create the “slums of the future”.

The Labour Party has committed to scrapping permitted development rights if it gets into government, while the Royal Town Planning Institute believed such rights “put housing affordability and design quality at risk” and undermined the planning system.

At the Conservative Party conference earliest this week housing minister Esther McVey said the government would tweak the permitted development rights’ regime but ruled out rolling it back.”

https://www.housingtoday.co.uk/news/riba-slams-moves-to-extend-permitted-development-rights/5101950.article?