I was sorry to see in last week's Thanet Extra an article on "Pay by the minute parking fee trial". I had predicted here on 1st July that Thanet Council would be increasing parking charges and so it has proved. Thanet Extra says the increase will be 10%.
Regrettably Sandy Ezekiel pictured in the Extra has chosen to selectively consult. He is shown with Ramsgate Town Council Conservative Councillor Pat Doyle, and talks about the need to talk with businesses. I agree consulting with businesses is important, but what about residents and shoppers? They are part of our community too.
I checked with the Mayor of Ramsgate Dave Green as to what he knew about the parking trials in Cavendish Street. He had heard nothing. 5 of the 8 trial areas are in the South Thanet constituency, but Steve Ladyman MP had received no details they could advise me of. The same applied to other Labour councillors where the parking schemes are being trialed.
This is petty party politics. It also lessens the reputation of Thanet Council if it does not seek to widely consult and is selective in who it talks to and briefs.
For my part residents, shoppers and businesses all tell me the same thing. For the town centres to compete against the free parking at Westwood Cross there should be 10 or 15 minutes free parking to encourage people to "pop and shop". Instead people shop out of town where they can park for free. I do not know if this would work better, but I think it should have been trialed.
Thanet Council could have tried their scheme in 4 areas, and the short term free parking scheme in 4 other areas to see which worked better. Ramsgate, Cliftonville and Margate town centres have Labour representatives. They are in touch with their communities. It is regrettable Council Leader Sandy Ezekiel did not access their local knowledge and acted in a partisan way. He should want to work with all parts of the community to make Thanet a better place.