Councillor says Plymouth treats motorists 'as a cash cow'
THE motorist is being treated as a cash cow, says city councillor Ian Darcy.
Speaking after the launch of a review of Plymouth's park and ride services, Cllr Darcy (Con, Plympton Erle), said: "Whilst I accept that the council has to plug funding gaps, it always seems to be on the back of the motorist.
"It is clear that the council is looking at the motorist as a cash cow."
He urged the city council to limit the use of the camera car, which catches motorists flouting traffic laws, to the city centre.
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And he called on Cllr Mark Coker, the Cabinet member for transport, to abandon plans to standardise on-street parking.
As reported in The Herald, the council is proposing to offer 15 minutes of free parking for shoppers in the West End of the city.
But money lost through the free parking could be replaced by extending the hours in some on-street meters by as much as eight hours a day.
"This is just another way of disguising a parking charge increase," Cllr Darcy said.
Cllr Coker defended his policies. He said: "The parking charges review is out for consultation. When the consultation is finished I will look at making a decision on what to do," he said. "I will listen to what people say."
And he said the park and ride review would look at the operation across the city.
"The camera car was introduced by the previous Conservative administration. In my opinion it plays an important part in road safety, especially around schools.
"Bus lane cameras help to improve traffic flow.
"There has been a lot of noise from central government about parking.
"We await the pronouncements from Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, but at the moment I have no intention of doing away with bus lanes and the camera car."
Cllr Darcy urged the council to delay any increase in parking charges until the local economy improves.
"The height of the busy summer period has passed. We are now entering less busy times where retailers and businesses must try to survive off their summer trade profits."
"What would be more beneficial is some kind of through ticketing for on-street parking so visitors may use the remainder of their ticket elsewhere to visit another of the city's offering.
"Parking charges should not be seen as an opportunity to generate additional income."
A consultation on the parking charges review, which began in September, has now been extended until the end of October.
The park and ride review, which began this week, will consider everything from concessionary rates to parking charges.
Cllr Pauline Murphy, chair of the scrutiny panel which will carry out the review, said: "There is no intention to close any park and ride service."
Andy Sharp, the council's public transport manager, said that fears of a fall-off in use had been unfounded.
In the past year running Plymouth's three park and ride car parks cost the council £128,976.
The total number of passengers using the George Junction and Milehouse is expected to hit 673,000 by the end of this financial year, up from 644,000 in 2011/12.
Coypool's predicted usage is also likely to be up compared with 2011/12, at 358,000.