December 7 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 6, 2013
A councillor has been accused of “jiggery pokery” in a bid to skew permit parking consultation results.
For when most residents rejected the proposed Great Yarmouth Zone B scheme, a new boundary was drawn up so supporters edged a majority by 3pc.
The new boundary - based around where most positive votes came from - ignored the views of many consultees and is different from the proposed Zone B.
Mick Castle, chairman of the car parking strategy steering group, said critics have got the “wrong end of the stick” and the consultation aimed to define the boundaries of any new zone. But shadow borough council leader Graham Plant said it was disingenuous for the council to issue a statement last week claiming Zone B had been “backed by the majority of households”.
It has since emerged that Zone B is unlikely to pay for itself and has little support among town centre businesses, forcing it to be put back.
But Mr Castle said there are still problems with parking, and added of the scheme: “I don’t think it’s going to go away.”
Mr Plant said there had been “jiggery pokery” in the way results of the consultation were interpreted.
He requested information direct from county council officers, and was told just 38pc of respondents supported the scheme.
Within Zone B, this was just 29pc for businesses and 43pc for homeowners, but in the newly-drawn-up zone it rose to 53pc.
“What’s the point in having a consultation if you don’t like it and change the boundaries?” fumed Mr Plant. “It’s totally wrong on so many different levels it’s untrue.
“Mick Castle asked for the breakdown of where the votes came from and there seems to be a selective choosing of where you get your votes to make the scheme go ahead.
“It suggests to me you’re not being very respectful to the people you asked to take part, and if you didn’t vote in the right way then you’re going to be ignored.”
He added Mr Castle - who said the scheme would “enhance the value of properties” - needs to declare an interest as he lives in Town Wall Road., the boundary of Zone B.
But Mr Castle said Mr Plant “wants to get a life” instead of causing “mischief”.
“It’s absolutely ludicrous to think we would manipulate the views of people in this area,” he said. “I can assure you we entered into the consultation with a view to establishing the correct boundaries for a scheme and we believe we found that, and those are the figures he says are manipulation.”
He added he would declare an interest at the next steering group meeting and added: “Why am I being asked now when the meeting isn’t until October?
“He wants to get a life.”
And he said he did not know why he was “involved in getting results of surveys before the road by road analysis was done” as Mr Plant lost his county council seat in May.
County council officers said the Zone B scheme is unlikely to pay for itself.
They said it could run at a surplus of £1,500 per year but given levels of support shown through consultation this “is not certain”, and it would cost £34,000 to set up.
The proposed Zone B runs east along Garrison Road, up Town Wall Road, south to Priory Plain, south along Temple Road, Alexandra Road, and Dene Side, around the old town walls and Friars’ Lane, and up to the riverbank, where it runs north back to Garrison Road.
Permits would cost £40 per year for residents.
Mr Castle said: “Overall, the financial case is marginal.
“A new scheme would have to be able to pay its own way, and there is a risk that Great Yarmouth Zone B wouldn’t do that.
“I know this will be disappointing to many people living within Zone B - especially those near the commercial centre, but this is not the kind of risk that local authorities can take on when there is such pressure on the public purse.
“For the scheme to be progressed with confidence in the future businesses need to be won over to the benefits to them of a paid permit scheme and I will certainly redouble my efforts to convince them of that.”
Michael Jeal, Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s cabinet member for tourism and business services, which includes car parking, said: “We have always said that the results of the consultation and the outcome of the financial assessment would be key in deciding whether this scheme goes ahead or not.
“It is disappointing, but I cannot support the proposal because it is simply not supported by the majority of the community, and the finances are therefore too risky to be viable.”