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No link between bus services and parking charges

(May 07, 2011)
ONE excuse trotted out by some of our highly paid council officers and councillors is that the new car parking charges are needed to support bus services locally.
That is a totally specious argument - ie one that seems plausible on the surface but is totally fallacious. Here's Why.
Across the country as a whole the government distributes money to councils on a formula funded basis to aid local authorities provision of a similar level of services nationwide, with locally determined priorities.
The central government funding identies how much each council needs to provide its service and if it is finding it hard then this is often a hallmark of inefficiency.
The Crux
In almost all of the non-metropolitan parts of England money goes to county councils to support bus services and while it is district councils that are responsible for off-road parking and receive the revenue for parking charges.
There is therefore no link whatsoever  between these different budget heads and in most parts of the country they are the responsibility of different councils.
''For our councillors to pretend that the bus services must be cut if there are no car parking charges is simply not true,'' said Steve Dancey.
''These charges are doing terrible damage to the town centre of Warminster and there are many spaces in the central car park even on what should be the busiest day of the week.
''I have been talking to traders and they are deeply depressed and unhappy - the town council's parking initiative cannot come too soon but that won't be until the end of June and by then it will be too late for some.''
Later this year we will be making a freedom of information request asking about the costs and revenues obtained in the town from the charges. Should be interesting information which we will share with the local press - with comments.
* Already this week Stationery Plus (quoted in The Wiltshire Times) says it moved out of our town because 'Warminster was getting a little quiet'.

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