A petition against proposals to extend on-street pay and display charges to almost a dozen towns in Lancashire – including Clitheroe – has been launched by a local councillor.
Ribble Valley Borough Councillor and Clitheroe Town Councillor Allan Knox has started the petition after Lancashire County Council chiefs agreed at a meeting on Monday to consult the public on the controversial proposals.
Speaking after the meeting Coun. Allan Knox said: “These proposals do not look at the matter holistically.
“If businesses go bust because of this, there will be less business rates and less income for the county council.
“This has not been thought through – they are taking money away with one hand and losing it on the other.
“Town centre businesses are already struggling.”
Local residents who would like to sign Coun. Knox’s petition objecting to the proposals can do so via: https://www.ribblevalleylibdems.org.uk/parking_charges
Anyone who wants to sign a paper version can call Coun. Knox on 01200 424936.
The leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council Ken Hind has also expressed his opposition to the proposals.
“The county council proposal is a backward step and will damage town centres,” said Coun. Hind. “It will undermine the policy of Ribble Valley Borough Council to drive the local economy by improving town centres, promoting heritage and tourism and creating more jobs.
“This is merely revenue raising, a measure badly thought out, without considering the consequences for business and the future of our town centres.”
He added: “Ribble Valley Borough Council has not had the opportunity to respond to this proposal, but I shall urging my colleagues to respond strongly to any consultation and reject this proposal.”
The proposals sparked a heated stand-off during the County Hall cabinet meeting on Monday.
Currently, roadside parking fees apply only in Preston and Lancaster, but as part of a bid to raise almost £200,000 in revenue, Lancashire County Council is to consult on widening the charges to other areas.
During a discussion about a wider £77m package of budget reductions, Liberal Democrat group leader, David Whipp, stood to present a 2,500-signature over the parking plans.
The move caused Conservative council leader Geoff Driver to adjourn the meeting – at which point County Coun. Whipp claimed he was no longer “gagged” by rule changes restricting who can speak during cabinet meetings.
“It’s time that you actually looked to the people of Lancashire and respected what they wanted rather than riding roughshod over their needs,” County Coun. Whipp said, before demanding the parking proposals be withdrawn.
A toe-to-toe discussion between the pair ensued before the meeting was adjourned. When proceedings resumed, no further discussion was permitted on the savings and revenue-raising measures – of which pay and display charges were one of the most insignificant in cash terms.
Earlier, chief executive Angie Ridgwell had introduced budget proposals which, if accepted, will allow the authority to set a balanced budget for each of the next four years.
With a department which accounts for 40% of annual spending at the authority, member for adult services, Graham Gooch, said Lancashire had more people in residential care than almost any other part of the country.
He added that the elderly and people with learning disabilities would be given more independence, via use of technology and more appropriate community housing schemes – some of which would require up front investment before savings could be realised.
Multi-million pound reductions in public health spending are to be mitigated, according to member for wellbeing, Shaun Turner, by increased use of the voluntary sector to help those with physical and mental health needs.
But opposition leader Azhar Ali condemned the proposed cessation of the Lancashire Wellbeing Service.
“Without these services, people will end up as inpatients or worse – you will lose lives.
“Staff are frightened and say there are people who won’t be around if this goes ahead, because the wider service is at breaking point,” County Coun. Ali added.