Liberal Democrats block “ludicrous” parking increase after cabinet shake-up on Mid Devon Council
Originally published by Central Devon Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats have backed Conservative councillors into a U-turn on a controversial proposal to increase parking charges by 60% across the Mid Devon Council area.
The Economy Policy Development Group chaired by Liberal Democrat Councillor John Downes (Crediton Lawrence) recommended that parking charges are kept in line with inflation, with no additional increase.
Large numbers of local residents attended the council meeting on Wednesday night to voice their opposition to the Conservatives' attempt to increase prices by 60%.
The meeting took place shortly after a new leader was appointed following Councillor Deed's decision to step down on Wednesday.
Conservatives on the council attempted to "seize control," but this was blocked by Liberal Democrat and non-aligned councillors who supported the election of Councillor Barry Warren.
In addition, the Liberal Democrat's supported a vote to abolish the 'Cabinet rule' system in a bid to restore democracy to Mid Devon Council.
Commenting on the parking charge U-turn, Liberal Democrat Councillor John Downes (Crediton Lawrence) said:
"The sheer volume of members of the public attending the meeting to raise concerns is a clear demonstration of how unpopular the proposal was.
"It is ludicrous and ill-considered to hike parking charges by over 50% when people are already struggling to stretch every penny.
"The Liberal Democrats campaigned heavily to prevent this unfair financial sting to local residents. There was no other option but to U-turn."
Acknowledging the high public turnout both in-person and online, Liberal Democrat Councillor Ben Holdman (Tiverton Castle) added:
"I have been stopped in the street by residents worried sick about the impact the ludicrous parking charge increase would have on their finances, and the loss of trade to our many independent local shops.
"The high public attendance at the meeting demonstrates the impact of the outgoing Conservative-led Cabinet not listening to -and serving- the communities we represent. We are proud to have secured this victory for the people of Mid Devon."
Petitions where organised in Tiverton and Crediton attracting hundreds of signatures.
Commenting on the election of Councillor Warren as new Council Leader, Liberal Democrat Councillor Luke Taylor (Bradninch) said:
"The Conservatives are the majority party on this council. They have created huge rifts and forced us into a dire financial position with their poor governance.
"We could not allow them to seize control and install a leader from their own party at this critical point. While Cllr Warren is not a member of our party, we believe he has the authority and experience to unite the council and lead us forward in the coming months.
"In May, voters across Mid Devon will be invited to polling stations to make their voice heard and finally rid the council of Conservative's who take them for granted and spend their hard-earned money on expensive vanity projects."
Commenting on the council voting to abolish the cabinet system, Liberal Democrat Councillor Simon Clist (Upper Culm) said:
"For a long time the Liberal Democrats have argued that 'Cabinet rule' places too much power in one person's hands.
"It has led to division and secrecy, and a lack of transparency for the public. We are glad to see it being abolished and will work closely with Councillor Warren to find a more transparent, more democratic form of local government."
Liberal Democrat Councillor James Buczkowski (Cullompton South) explained why the presented budget could not be agreed:
"It is clear that with the situation of loans by the Council to property developer 3 Rivers Development unresolved Council could not approve the budget."