A stealth tax

Wednesday 21st December 2011 12:00 am

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I HAVE great concern over the decision by the government cabinet of the Forest of Dean District Council, to implement car parking management charges from July 2012.

This decision has been reached by the cabinet's inability to manage the district council budget by freezing council tax charges for four years. The decision to freeze this form of revenue has seen the imposition of stealth taxes and loss of services and jobs.

The charging for vermin control, removal of  large items of household waste, removal of garden waste, further removal of funding for youth services and care in the community. Now, of course, car parking charges.

At a time of extreme financial uncertainty and hardship, to impose car parking charges are considered to be highly detrimental to traders and business in the four market towns.

In the recent Mary Portas review she highlighted that car parking charges are killing off the High Streets. The suggestion by the Cabinet that imposing car parking charges will regenerate and make  our town's more prosperous, is  ludicrous in the extreme.

The Cabinet members are instrumental in the forthcoming further demise of the four  towns'  high streets  trading profile.

The Scrutiny committee's investigation failed to tackle the key area of consultation. The town, parish councils and the general public have not fully engaged in this crucial investigation.

The scrutiny report was narrowly accepted by eight votes to seven by the scrutiny working group , due to the failure to carry out a proper consultation exercise- a legal requirement.

Feedback from these bodies would have helped to inform the key recommendations that the Scrutiny Committee would then make to Cabinet. Why has this consultation not taken place? The scrutiny process has failed to recognise this.

It is incredulous the Regeneration Officer for the four towns has never been consulted about the potential effects of car parking on local traders , businesses and high street users.

It is clear that the proposed revenue projected from charging will not be realised and the cabinet will then make further cuts to leisure services, community engagement services or more jobs  cuts, to fill any shortfall from revenue income.  

A proposed 11p ( 3.45 per-cent) per week increase  in council tax would save not only the car parks from charging but protect other services and resources. This would be far more effective than imposing a minimum of 40p per hour which has now been agreed by Cabinet.

The 7,000 signatures gathered to object to charging have been contemptuously ignored and dismissed. The passionate pleas and representations by businesses and traders across the Forest of Dean, on the scrutiny  evidence gathering day, have fallen on deaf ears and have been summarily brushed aside.

– Di Martin.


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