Labour launches free parking campaign for Morpeth
‘Fair’s Fair’ campaign targets Liberal Democrat ‘stealth tax’ on motorists
Labour has launched a campaign to highlight inequality and unfairness in car parking charges in Morpeth as pressure grows on the council’s ruling Liberal Democrat group to lift their so-called ‘tax on motorists’.
At a meeting of full council last week, Labour backed a Conservative motion which lifted car parking charges in Morpeth, Berwick, Alnwick and Hexham for one week from 18-24 Dec. The motion was described as ‘irresponsible and immoral’ by leading Liberal Democrat and Morpeth councillor Andrew Tebbutt after Labour decided to back the Conservative motion even though it felt ‘it didn’t go far enough’.
The meeting was also told that the council ‘raked in’ over £1.95m in fees and charges from some towns in Northumberland while offering free car parking in other areas. Sources have indicated that Liberal Democrat leader Jeff Reid and his Cabinet are considering whether to scrap free parking in the South East area as part of their budget proposals.
Labour is hoping that their campaign which will include a petition will attract widespread support and have highlighted that their proposals would mean town and parish councils would be able to decide if free parking was appropriate for their area.
Labour group leader Grant Davey said
‘We think this is a simple matter of fairness and it’s not political. Towns like Morpeth, Berwick and Hexham shouldn’t be hit with, what amounts to, a ‘stealth tax on motorists’ and ‘soaked’ by the county council to the tune of nearly £2m. At a time when businesses and customers are facing an unprecedented squeeze, we think the council should play fair with the whole county. At the same time, we’re dismayed to hear the Liberals may be considering introducing parking charges in areas in the South East. We hope that residents and businesses will get behind our ‘fair’s- fair’ campaign which sends a message to the Liberal Democrats, particularly the Three councillors in Morpeth, that the town deserves a helping hand in tough times not a kick in the teeth’.
Labour MP for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery said
‘It’s vital that the county council helps businesses and residents in tough economic times and that’s why it’s right that the Labour party draws attention to a measure that is clearly unfair. I would urge the council to take this matter seriously and do the right thing for Morpeth’.
Notes for the Editor
· Labour’s policy on car parking is based on a motion to Full Council last year. It wasn’t supported by the Conservative or Liberal groups.
· The Labour party in Northumberland wants to introduce free parking in partnership with town and parish council’s and as part of an overall ‘traffic management plan’.