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26,300 signatures and a palace coup later, Surrey Tories finally scrap On-Street Parking Charges plan

October 11, 2011 10:25 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

In a victory for local campaigners and Liberal Democrats who organised an on-line petition with 26,300 signatures, the new Leader of Surrey County Council will this morning announce the abandoment of the County's on-street parking charge plans.

Cllr Hazel Watson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, says:

"The Leader of the Council has finally accepted the strength of the 26,300 signature petition organised by the Liberal Democrats and has caved in over the introduction of car parking charges across the County.

"I wholeheartedly welcome this U-turn by the Conservative administration at County Hall. They have finally seen sense and realised that the policy would hit Surrey businesses hard, would tax the motorist and clog up Surrey's residential roads with parked cars.

"The Liberal Democrats have opposed the On-Street Parking Charges policy from day one.

"It was unrealistic to expect to bring in enough money from car parking charges to cover the costs of the scheme.

"I am delighted that this half-baked policy has been abandoned. However it has taken too long for the Tory administration to admit their policy would not work. They tried to force through the policy despite massive opposition by residents and businesses.

"The Conservatives rejected a Liberal Democrat motion to Council, threw out a 26,300 signature petition organised by the Liberal Democrats and pushed ahead with the plans.

"Hundreds of hours have been wasted by councillors and council officers on this failed policy, at massive expense to Surrey Council Tax payers. This time and money would have been better spent on more productive and urgent issues.

"All over the County Conservative councillors have told their local residents that they oppose the plans, while voting for them in County Hall. It has finally taken a palace coup and the replacement of the Conservative Leader for a U-turn to happen."

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Stephen Cooksey adds:

"The scheme was an ill-planned disaster from beginning to end which proved that, even with a large majority, Conservative policies that are totally unacceptable to the public can be defeated. Liberal Democrats have led the opposition to this scheme from its inception in January and have supported and co-ordinated opposition throughout the County. Everyone who has participated, not least the 26,300 people who signed the epetition in April, will feel more comfortable for knowing that not only has this policy been defeated by massive public opposition but that County Conservatives can no longer take the public for granted and disregard opposition as they tried to do in this case.

"Council Tax payers are, however, left to pick up the significant bill for wasted officer time, advertising unacceptable schemes and negotiating contracts. I expect the Tories to tell us exactly how much money they have wasted on this failed project at a time when they are planning to close Libraries and reduce important services. It is a sad comment on the ability of the Conservative adminstration to run the Council in a fair and effective manner and one that people will not forget."