Agenda item

Call-in of the Cabinet Decision - Car Parking Strategy (7.45pm)

Minutes:

Mrs Helen Bridgett provided a verbal statement to the Panel in relation to the submission of the petition to oppose the charge period (8:00 am to 6:00 pm) and the increased parking tariffs in Leek.

 

At its last meeting, Cabinet received the newly drafted Staffordshire Moorlands Car Parking Strategy, after it had been debated in detail by the Service Delivery Overview and Scrutiny Panel on 26 January 2022. This followed consideration by the cross-party Car Park Working Group at a number of meetings during 2021. The Strategy and associated investment plans were generally supported by the Panel. Members did however recommend that Cabinet should review the Strategy 12 months after implementation to evaluate its impact and that consideration be given to defer the changes relating to the revised charging period in Cheadle.

 

Cabinet approved the adoption of the Car Parking Strategy, subject to,

 

-       the Strategy being reviewed 12 months after implementation to evaluate its impact.

-       That the proposed charge period (8:00 am to 6:00 pm) and the associated free half an hour / one hour concessions be deferred in Cheadle. The present charge period to be retained (9:30 am to 3:30 pm) subject to a further review later in the year when the outcomes from the High Streets Task Force / Masterplan Development are known.

 

The key findings, recommendations and action plan within the Strategy were noted and the following actions approved:

 

a.       That the tariffs set out in section 8.13 of the report for the new financial year be implemented.

 

b.       That a tourist parking pass be created and permits be reviewed to ensure more flexibility for customers.

 

c.        That Pay by Phone across SMDC car parks to facilitate cashless and contactless payments be implemented as soon as possible.

 

d.       That the current ticket machines be replaced on a phased base, reducing where possible, to include contactless and card payment options.

 

e.       That a bespoke SMDC EV strategy be progressed and developed working collaboratively with Staffordshire County Council and their consultants.

 

f.        That short stay and long stay areas on Cheadle Tape Street car park and tariff changes be created, updating the SMDC parking order accordingly.

 

g.       That the creation of a new officer position within the Assets Service to strategically manage car parking across the Alliance and implement the action plan and strategy over the course of the next 5 years be noted.

 

h.       That appropriate funds be allocated to improve signage and wayfinding on the car parks.

 

During the meeting of Council on 23 February 2022, a petition to oppose the charge period (8:00 am to 6:00 pm) and the increased parking tariffs in Leek was received.

 

The Leader advised that the Strategy had been altered and free parking would be available in Leek before 9:30am and after 3:30pm. However, the new short free parking periods on certain car parks within the Strategy in Leek would be abolished and the new tariffs implemented.

 

Call-in requests had been received from Councillors: -

M. Gledhill, K. Hoptroff, L. Page, D. Price, C. Atkins, L. Swindlehurst, B. Cawley, P. Taylor and S. Coleman.

 

The call-in request confirmed the following principles of decision making which they believed had not been adhered to and the reasons they had not been followed:

 

· Taking due regard of all relevant considerations and disregarding irrelevant considerations- The decision to implement the strategy at this time does not sufficiently take into account the local economic circumstances for businesses and residents at the beginning of the COVID recovery.

 

· Taken on the basis of due consultation and professional advice from Officers - The outcomes of the consultation done in Feb 21 by the consultants regarding Leek seem to contrast sharply with public opinion being expressed now. Also, the consultants state that “ the biggest response came from Cheadle”. Covid restrictions meant that there were no public face to face consultations and that attendance at workshops could well have been affected. These points cast doubts on the assumptions made at that time. This should be revisited.

 

· Respect for human rights and equalities - The lack of the ‘free half hour’ in the leek car parks closest to the centre discriminates against those with walking difficulties, who do not have a disability blue badge.

 

· A presumption in favour of openness - At the Jan 22 meeting of Services Scrutiny, The Chair did offer a subsequent meeting to have further discussion. This has not happened but we feel that this would be beneficial. A call in would facilitate this.

 

Members debated the points raised both in the Cabinet and Call-in reports, particularly around the use of consultants for this strategy. The Panel also recommended that the Car Parking Working Group be reconvened.

 

The matter was then put to a named vote as follows:-

 

In favour of the Call-in:

Councillors: Brady, Davies, Hawkins, Hoptroff, Page, Gledhill and Yates (7)

 

Against the Call-in:

Councillors: Aberley, Bentley, Emery, Flunder, Herdman, Hughes, Plimley, Roberts, Routledge, Holmes and Malyon (11)

 

DECIDED: For the decision not to be referred back to Cabinet for reconsideration.

 

In accordance with the procedure for consideration of Call-ins at Overview & Scrutiny Panel meetings where the Call-in was not successful, the Cabinet were asked to note or take account of concerns as it saw fit without holding up the implementation of the decision.

 

 

Supporting documents: