Tempers flare over parking charges at Cotswold District Council

Tempers flare over parking charges at Cotswold District Council

Members of the Cotswold Liberal Democrats vented their frustration over parking charges at Cotswold District Council's Cirencester headquarters yesterday

Residents packed the council chamber at Cotswold District Council's Trinity Road headquarters yesterday

Angry residents and Liberal Democrat councillors staged a protest outside the Trinity Road offices during the meeting

First published in News by

THE LONG-RUNNING issue of parking charges proved a contentious issue at yesterday’s meeting of Cotswold District Council.

Residents packed the councils’ Cirencester headquarters on Tuesday to grill cabinet member for the environment Cllr David Fowles (Con, Hampton), who refuted claims that parking charges are being used as a “stealth tax” on drivers.

Dismissing accusations that the council had used Cirencester as a “cash cow”, Cllr Fowles explained that revenue from parking is pumped back into “essential services” such as public toilets, street cleaning and bins.

“We make a charge that we think is reasonable for the service we provide,” he said.

Angry residents and Liberal Democrat councillors staged a protest outside the Trinity Road offices during the meeting, with placards bearing slogans such as "End 24/7 Parking Charges in the Brewery" and "These Parking are Fowl" - complete with a picture of Cllr Fowles.

Resident Liz Hughes said she was often forced to pay parking charges at the Brewery Car Park while attending evening classes at the New Brewery Arts centre and accused Cllr Fowles of “punishing Cirencester”.

“I’ve not met one single person who agrees with these charges,” she said. “Surely you should be encouraging venues that are already struggling?”

Cllr Fowles replied he believed the 24-hour charging scheme had been a success and he had no plans to abolish it.

When asked by Cirencester resident Chris Arnold if he would consider dropping charges to 50p an hour, Cllr Fowles said that this would cost the council £1.6m a year and a council tax increase of 30 per cent would be required to make up the shortfall.

When Mr Arnold asked him if this proved the council was using parking charges to subsidise council tax, he again denied the claims.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Lee Searles (Park) said he was concerned, despite a significant amount of money being generated by parking charges, there had been no investment in improving the car parks in Cirencester in recent years.

“If you take a walk around any of them you can see potholes filled with water,” he said. “It’s a very poor service.”

Cllr Fowles replied he was aware some of the car parks needed work and that this would be done in the near future.

Accusing the Tory administration of “bleeding the Cotswolds dry with its shameful car parking policy”, Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) presented proposals to remove the 24-hour charges at Cirencester’s Brewery Car Park. He also suggested a new pricing policy which would see users pay 70p for an hour, £1.50 for an hour and £2.20 for two.

“This is about getting people into our towns and villages,” he said. “That is the key.”

However, council leader Cllr Lynden Stowe (Con, Campden-Vale) accused the Liberal Democrats of “taking an enormous risk with this council’s finances” and the suggestions were voted down by members.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Fowles told the Standard the suggested new pricing policy would cost £850,000 to implement and require a 15 per cent increase in council tax, calling it a “complete fantasy”.

Comments (17)

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6:24pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Olly Cromwell says...

Fowles keeps on digging his own hole...the bulk of car parking charges come from Cirencester and are being used to subsidise the Council Tax of the grander properties in the north of the District.

It's a mansion house subsidy for the rich, paid for by poor fleeced Cirencester motorists.

It's how revolutions start.
Fowles keeps on digging his own hole...the bulk of car parking charges come from Cirencester and are being used to subsidise the Council Tax of the grander properties in the north of the District. It's a mansion house subsidy for the rich, paid for by poor fleeced Cirencester motorists. It's how revolutions start. Olly Cromwell
  • Score: 0

6:43pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Pentheus says...

As the contest for "Liars of the year" is well underway with the LibDems out in front closely followed by the Con's and Labour Lies... is it not time we really thought about throwing the national political parties in the bin and looking for localism through Independents...
It has happened with the new Police Commissioner and voters can replicate this by throwing out national party representatives.....
start doing this in the next Council Elections ...

Why will Cllr Stowe not publish the full revenue and cost figures for car parking in the CDC district that can be reprinted in the W&G ? ....... lets have some examples of transparency !
As the contest for "Liars of the year" is well underway with the LibDems out in front closely followed by the Con's and Labour Lies... is it not time we really thought about throwing the national political parties in the bin and looking for localism through Independents... It has happened with the new Police Commissioner and voters can replicate this by throwing out national party representatives..... start doing this in the next Council Elections ... Why will Cllr Stowe not publish the full revenue and cost figures for car parking in the CDC district that can be reprinted in the W&G ? ....... lets have some examples of transparency ! Pentheus
  • Score: 0

7:10pm Wed 27 Feb 13

MrMarkHarris says...

If parking charges are not a stealth tax, or as Eric Pickles (Sec' of State for Communities and Local Government) puts it: a "great council cash-cow cover-up" and a "shopping tax" and "local war against motorists", why is the surplus being used to pay for "essential services" surely this should be paid for out of direct taxation?

While we are at it, did you know that the average Conservative run council charges parking rates that cost £43 per local household each year, the average in the UK is £37.49.
If parking charges are not a stealth tax, or as Eric Pickles (Sec' of State for Communities and Local Government) puts it: a "great council cash-cow cover-up" and a "shopping tax" and "local war against motorists", why is the surplus being used to pay for "essential services" surely this should be paid for out of direct taxation? While we are at it, did you know that the average Conservative run council charges parking rates that cost £43 per local household each year, the average in the UK is £37.49. MrMarkHarris
  • Score: 0

7:50pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Jessica Rabbit says...

Cllr Fowles states that

"....revenue from parking is pumped back into “essential services” such as public toilets, street cleaning and bins..."

Public toilets???? Cirencester public toilets are disgusting, where is the money going??

The parking charges in Cirencester are terrible and I point blank refuse to use the car parks because of this. To park in Stroud, which is a small town too, is 50p for 2-3 hours and free in December, perfect for Christmas shopping.

When is CDC going to realise that it's better to have cheaper parking fees and have the car parks full, rather than 'daylight robbery' fees and the car parks half full? It will also reduce the street parking issues which are getting worse.

Cirencester is becoming a ghost town and something needs to be sorted soon.
Cllr Fowles states that "....revenue from parking is pumped back into “essential services” such as public toilets, street cleaning and bins..." Public toilets???? Cirencester public toilets are disgusting, where is the money going?? The parking charges in Cirencester are terrible and I point blank refuse to use the car parks because of this. To park in Stroud, which is a small town too, is 50p for 2-3 hours and free in December, perfect for Christmas shopping. When is CDC going to realise that it's better to have cheaper parking fees and have the car parks full, rather than 'daylight robbery' fees and the car parks half full? It will also reduce the street parking issues which are getting worse. Cirencester is becoming a ghost town and something needs to be sorted soon. Jessica Rabbit
  • Score: 0

8:10pm Wed 27 Feb 13

dopey1 says...

"When asked by Cirencester resident Chris Arnold if he would consider dropping charges to 50p an hour, Cllr Fowles said that this would cost the council £1.6m a year and a council tax increase of 30 per cent would be required to make up the shortfall. "

According to Cllr Fowles, a drop in car parking fees to 50p would cause a 30 per cent increase in council tax BUT, car parking fees are not subsidising the Council Tax. Both statements cannot be true!
"When asked by Cirencester resident Chris Arnold if he would consider dropping charges to 50p an hour, Cllr Fowles said that this would cost the council £1.6m a year and a council tax increase of 30 per cent would be required to make up the shortfall. " According to Cllr Fowles, a drop in car parking fees to 50p would cause a 30 per cent increase in council tax BUT, car parking fees are not subsidising the Council Tax. Both statements cannot be true! dopey1
  • Score: 0

9:03pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Union Man says...

Far be it from me to state the obvious but if Council Tax doesn't subsidies the Car Parking then a reduction in Car Parking Fees would need a subsidy from Council Tax, possibly of 30%!
The car parks are empty, except at peak times when they are full, so maybe flexi pricing, 50p 8 till noon then existing rates till 4 pm when evening rates kick in?
Or to compete with Tesco free parking how about negative pricing where get a ticket and on production at CDC you get a pound for every hour you park, just an idea.
Far be it from me to state the obvious but if Council Tax doesn't subsidies the Car Parking then a reduction in Car Parking Fees would need a subsidy from Council Tax, possibly of 30%! The car parks are empty, except at peak times when they are full, so maybe flexi pricing, 50p 8 till noon then existing rates till 4 pm when evening rates kick in? Or to compete with Tesco free parking how about negative pricing where get a ticket and on production at CDC you get a pound for every hour you park, just an idea. Union Man
  • Score: 0

9:42pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Council Taxpayer says...

Jessica Rabbit wrote:
Cllr Fowles states that

"....revenue from parking is pumped back into “essential services” such as public toilets, street cleaning and bins..."

Public toilets???? Cirencester public toilets are disgusting, where is the money going??

The parking charges in Cirencester are terrible and I point blank refuse to use the car parks because of this. To park in Stroud, which is a small town too, is 50p for 2-3 hours and free in December, perfect for Christmas shopping.

When is CDC going to realise that it's better to have cheaper parking fees and have the car parks full, rather than 'daylight robbery' fees and the car parks half full? It will also reduce the street parking issues which are getting worse.

Cirencester is becoming a ghost town and something needs to be sorted soon.
Jessica Rabbit asks:
"Public toilets???? Cirencester public toilets are disgusting, where is the money going??"

Well, that's really quite simple Jessica - directly to a firm called Healthmatic which just happens to be run by Chuck Berry, a Conservative on neighbouring Wiltshire Council.

Nothing like keeping our parking money in the Tory family, is there?
[quote][p][bold]Jessica Rabbit[/bold] wrote: Cllr Fowles states that "....revenue from parking is pumped back into “essential services” such as public toilets, street cleaning and bins..." Public toilets???? Cirencester public toilets are disgusting, where is the money going?? The parking charges in Cirencester are terrible and I point blank refuse to use the car parks because of this. To park in Stroud, which is a small town too, is 50p for 2-3 hours and free in December, perfect for Christmas shopping. When is CDC going to realise that it's better to have cheaper parking fees and have the car parks full, rather than 'daylight robbery' fees and the car parks half full? It will also reduce the street parking issues which are getting worse. Cirencester is becoming a ghost town and something needs to be sorted soon.[/p][/quote]Jessica Rabbit asks: "Public toilets???? Cirencester public toilets are disgusting, where is the money going??" Well, that's really quite simple Jessica - directly to a firm called Healthmatic which just happens to be run by Chuck Berry, a Conservative on neighbouring Wiltshire Council. Nothing like keeping our parking money in the Tory family, is there? Council Taxpayer
  • Score: 0

6:22am Thu 28 Feb 13

Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum says...

"Cirencester HAS BECOME a ghost town and something needs to be sorted soon.”

Edited for accuracy.
"Cirencester HAS BECOME a ghost town and something needs to be sorted soon.” Edited for accuracy. Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum
  • Score: 0

7:46am Thu 28 Feb 13

Crispin Mount says...

As a rep on the Cotswold Water Park Joint Committee Cllr Folwes did nothing when he was tipped off about Dennis Grant's 'irregularities'.

As an employee of Cotswold Media Mr Fowles undertook extensive printing business on behalf of Mr Grant's corrupt Cotswold Water Park Society.

As Cabinet Member for parking he was caught pictured parked up on the kerb avoiding his own parking charges.

As the member responsible for Environment a handsome contract for rebuilding the toilets and servicing was won by a Tory colleague's business in Wiltshire.

Just saying.
As a rep on the Cotswold Water Park Joint Committee Cllr Folwes did nothing when he was tipped off about Dennis Grant's 'irregularities'. As an employee of Cotswold Media Mr Fowles undertook extensive printing business on behalf of Mr Grant's corrupt Cotswold Water Park Society. As Cabinet Member for parking he was caught pictured parked up on the kerb avoiding his own parking charges. As the member responsible for Environment a handsome contract for rebuilding the toilets and servicing was won by a Tory colleague's business in Wiltshire. Just saying. Crispin Mount
  • Score: 0

10:39am Thu 28 Feb 13

Cotswold Lad says...

Cllr Fowles can't even follow the logic of his own arguments ... which possibly reveals more about the quality of the CDC than he would want.

Living in the Town Centre one regularly sees people parking illegally in the Market Place while they pop into either Nat West or Barclays as there is insufficient short-stay parking where you need it most. Yet, it is this parking that the Town Council want to reduce even further.

Between the CDC using drivers as cash cows and the Town Council seeking to push drivers out of the Market Place, it is no wonder the town is dying day by day.
Cllr Fowles can't even follow the logic of his own arguments ... which possibly reveals more about the quality of the CDC than he would want. Living in the Town Centre one regularly sees people parking illegally in the Market Place while they pop into either Nat West or Barclays as there is insufficient short-stay parking where you need it most. Yet, it is this parking that the Town Council want to reduce even further. Between the CDC using drivers as cash cows and the Town Council seeking to push drivers out of the Market Place, it is no wonder the town is dying day by day. Cotswold Lad
  • Score: 0

1:31pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Iansky says...

Crispin Mount wrote:
As a rep on the Cotswold Water Park Joint Committee Cllr Folwes did nothing when he was tipped off about Dennis Grant's 'irregularities'. As an employee of Cotswold Media Mr Fowles undertook extensive printing business on behalf of Mr Grant's corrupt Cotswold Water Park Society. As Cabinet Member for parking he was caught pictured parked up on the kerb avoiding his own parking charges. As the member responsible for Environment a handsome contract for rebuilding the toilets and servicing was won by a Tory colleague's business in Wiltshire. Just saying.
I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg on the "wheelings & dealings" of these concillors and how they are feathering their own nests at the expense of small businesses and Cirencester Town.
I wish we still had the stock so we could display them all in the market place and let the locals vote by their actions!
How can we trust a single word they say when it is full of flannel and contradiction.
[quote][p][bold]Crispin Mount[/bold] wrote: As a rep on the Cotswold Water Park Joint Committee Cllr Folwes did nothing when he was tipped off about Dennis Grant's 'irregularities'. As an employee of Cotswold Media Mr Fowles undertook extensive printing business on behalf of Mr Grant's corrupt Cotswold Water Park Society. As Cabinet Member for parking he was caught pictured parked up on the kerb avoiding his own parking charges. As the member responsible for Environment a handsome contract for rebuilding the toilets and servicing was won by a Tory colleague's business in Wiltshire. Just saying.[/p][/quote]I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg on the "wheelings & dealings" of these concillors and how they are feathering their own nests at the expense of small businesses and Cirencester Town. I wish we still had the stock so we could display them all in the market place and let the locals vote by their actions! How can we trust a single word they say when it is full of flannel and contradiction. Iansky
  • Score: 0

1:40pm Thu 28 Feb 13

esse quam viderie says...

Just a small non-party comment, Cotswold Lad. The plans that I saw did show fewer actual spaces in the Market Place but available for a shorter duration therefore making it easier to pop into the bank etc.
Just a small non-party comment, Cotswold Lad. The plans that I saw did show fewer actual spaces in the Market Place but available for a shorter duration therefore making it easier to pop into the bank etc. esse quam viderie
  • Score: 0

2:36pm Thu 28 Feb 13

dopey1 says...

I went into town early yesterday evening ( Wednesday). The pubs and restaurants in the market square area were quiet yet the north (church) side of the area, where you can park free at night, was full of cars all the way down into Dyer Street.

A Heavy Goods Vehicle, carrying out an evening drop at a town centre shop, was trying to turn left by The Bear, to get into the market. As the road opposite was blocked by parked cars his left turn consisted of much manoeuvring between the cars in front and to this right and a high level sign on his left.
These cars were impeding the highway to avoid paying the charges in the brewery car park. The whole plan is defeating itself!
I went into town early yesterday evening ( Wednesday). The pubs and restaurants in the market square area were quiet yet the north (church) side of the area, where you can park free at night, was full of cars all the way down into Dyer Street. A Heavy Goods Vehicle, carrying out an evening drop at a town centre shop, was trying to turn left by The Bear, to get into the market. As the road opposite was blocked by parked cars his left turn consisted of much manoeuvring between the cars in front and to this right and a high level sign on his left. These cars were impeding the highway to avoid paying the charges in the brewery car park. The whole plan is defeating itself! dopey1
  • Score: 0

5:13pm Thu 28 Feb 13

David Broad says...

A number of Liberal Democrat supporters attended the meeting to protest the car park chares and to wave the placards provided, but nothing like the number who came from tiny Northleach pop approx 1200 who literally came by the bus load to protest about their prison building being sold some time ago.
The pictures show the level of support with a dozen Libdem town and district councillors and a pretty girl holding placards, compare that with the archive pitures of the Northleach protest or the Tetbury planning protesters.”
A number of Liberal Democrat supporters attended the meeting to protest the car park chares and to wave the placards provided, but nothing like the number who came from tiny Northleach pop approx 1200 who literally came by the bus load to protest about their prison building being sold some time ago. The pictures show the level of support with a dozen Libdem town and district councillors and a pretty girl holding placards, compare that with the archive pitures of the Northleach protest or the Tetbury planning protesters.” David Broad
  • Score: 0

8:15pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Robert Jeanes says...

So councillor Broad is..... spotting 'pretty' girls then?

Never mind all the other ladies in the picture!

Sexism in politics is headline stuff these days. Mr Broad seems blissfully unaware of this.
So councillor Broad is..... spotting 'pretty' girls then? Never mind all the other ladies in the picture! Sexism in politics is headline stuff these days. Mr Broad seems blissfully unaware of this. Robert Jeanes
  • Score: 0

2:08pm Fri 1 Mar 13

Iansky says...

David Broad wrote:
A number of Liberal Democrat supporters attended the meeting to protest the car park chares and to wave the placards provided, but nothing like the number who came from tiny Northleach pop approx 1200 who literally came by the bus load to protest about their prison building being sold some time ago. The pictures show the level of support with a dozen Libdem town and district councillors and a pretty girl holding placards, compare that with the archive pitures of the Northleach protest or the Tetbury planning protesters.”
The lack of apparent support may be due to the fact that the majority of people who would like to have attended were working as they full time jobs.
The number of people who signed the Online petition should provide a greater perspective on public feeling yet again, so many are totally disgusted with the antics and lack of support for the town that they see no point in attending what they perceive as a fait accompli ( and it appears they were correct).
[quote][p][bold]David Broad[/bold] wrote: A number of Liberal Democrat supporters attended the meeting to protest the car park chares and to wave the placards provided, but nothing like the number who came from tiny Northleach pop approx 1200 who literally came by the bus load to protest about their prison building being sold some time ago. The pictures show the level of support with a dozen Libdem town and district councillors and a pretty girl holding placards, compare that with the archive pitures of the Northleach protest or the Tetbury planning protesters.”[/p][/quote]The lack of apparent support may be due to the fact that the majority of people who would like to have attended were working as they full time jobs. The number of people who signed the Online petition should provide a greater perspective on public feeling yet again, so many are totally disgusted with the antics and lack of support for the town that they see no point in attending what they perceive as a fait accompli ( and it appears they were correct). Iansky
  • Score: 0

4:06pm Fri 1 Mar 13

Council Taxpayer says...

Cllr Broad, are you actually saying that your Tory administration is challenging Cirencester to scream even louder in anguish before you are prepared to listen?
Everyone can do that at the ballot box in May, which isn't that far away. There is nothing to prevent county council electors voting on district issues.
Cllr Broad, are you actually saying that your Tory administration is challenging Cirencester to scream even louder in anguish before you are prepared to listen? Everyone can do that at the ballot box in May, which isn't that far away. There is nothing to prevent county council electors voting on district issues. Council Taxpayer
  • Score: 0

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