THE ongoing consultation for on-street parking charges in Cirencester has been hijacked by “people desperate to score party political points”, according to a Gloucestershire county councillor.
A consultation is currently underway for people in Cirencester to give their views on whether on-street parking charges should be introduced in select areas of the town centre including Castle Street.
Cllr Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways, said: “GCC kicked off this review at the request of Cirencester Town Council and Cotswold District Council, which were both keen to help businesses in the town.
“It’s not something we have pushed and, if people in Cirencester do not support it, we will walk away from the project.
“What started as a genuine attempt by the county council to help Cirencester is being increasingly turned into a political football by people desperate to score party political points.”
The remarks were made after the proposals were attacked by the chairman of the Cotswold branch of the UK Independence Party, Chris Harlow.
Under the proposals, pay and display machines would also be placed in residential streets to encourage motorists to make the most of the town’s car parks.
Mr Harlow told the Standard that it was unfair to make drivers pay to park on the roads when they have already paid their road tax contribution.
Members of the Cotswold Ukip party have since left leaflets on the windscreens of vehicles in the affected areas encouraging motorists to object to the plans.
The proposals have already received heavy criticism from members of the Cotswold Liberal Democrats, most notably by the town’s mayor Cllr Joe Harris.
Cllr Smith continued: “I think it’s a real shame and it’s certainly not in the long-term interest of Cirencester or the people who live and work there.
“There’s a consultation ongoing, which ends this week, and anyone interested should take part and have their say.”
The consultation process is due to end on Friday, March 28. To take part, visit www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/parking and click on parking consultations.