A bit of a rant today, I’m afraid.
The County Council’s attitude to parts of Cambridge (such as Queen Edith’s) having become giant car parks is well known. They see the roads we live in as “assets” to be exploited. Don’t forget that the vast majority of County Councillors – who control our roads in the city – represent areas out of town. They like the idea of free parking outside our houses, even when it gets stupidly chaotic, as it does around Addenbrooke’s.
But today’s news that our County Council wants to start charging for parking at the Park and Ride sites is not just objectionable, it’s idiotic. The Park and Ride system seems to be an unqualified success, so why mess with it? For a large number of Park and Ride users, £250 a year might be enough to make them decide to try fighting the parking chaos in the city again. And it’s not as if it’s an instant money earner: it’ll take nearly all of the first year to recoup the cost of installing the parking charge collection systems (longer, I’d bet, once the bill comes in).
According to the Cambridge News, Cllr Mac McGuire, the council’s deputy leader, said that: “At some sites, a considerable number of motorists are using the site for free parking and then walking or cycling to their destination, thus avoiding paying for parking in Cambridge or at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.” To which I say good, who wouldn’t prefer these people from parking out of town and then walking or cycling in, rather than adding to the traffic chaos in the city?
If it really was just people who are parking but aren’t actually using the Park and Ride buses who are the “problem”, the Council would have proposed the introduction of an all-in-one “parking plus bus ticket” system. That would make sense. Issue a two-part bus ticket, where one part goes on the car windscreen. Of course, that’s not the case – the “problem” is just a flimsy excuse for eliminating another example of certain politicians’ worst nightmare: giving something away to the great unwashed for free.
Sensing a political opportunity, but also with some conviction, the Liberal Democrat opposition have said they’re “furious”, not least because the idea has been launched with no consultation. Spokesperson David Jenkins said: “This is a throwback to the old days of Tories not bothering to find out what local people think.”
Oh, I reckon they know exactly what people think. That’s why they’re not asking.