These figures suggest to me that both visitors and locals are parking in nearby streets which are free, or avoiding town centres and tourist spots altogether, rather than coughing up the exorbitant, rip-off fees (increased in some cases by 138%), which were introduced by the UKIP controlled council earlier this year. If this trend continues throughout the year then its possible that TDC will miss its income generation targets for car parks and may even earn less than last year.
Both the fee hike and the proposed expansion of new fee charging parking schemes across Thanet have generated great public anger against TDC and a petition of almost 900 signatures. This anger has been fuelled by the fact that UKIP councillors who run TDC and who put forward these plans, stood for election in 2015 on a manifesto which states that “UKIP believes our town centres should be vibrant and profitable and that means encouraging locals, visitors and tourists into town, by removing barriers that act as a disincentive, such as expensive or restricted parking”. Not surprisingly many Thanet residents have now branded TDC’s UKIP councillors as a hypocrites and this might be a factor in their humiliating defeat in the recent county council elections in May. And rightly so! A politician who promises one thing and then does the total opposite deserves to be punished by the voters.
Thankfully, many local politicians are waking to the fact that they may pay a high price for taking the piss out of voters and are now beginning to rebel against TDCs ill-conceived decision to hike parking fees and its hare-brianed plans to massively expand paid for parking schemes across Thanet.
|UKIPs Chris Wells gone soon??|
At a meeting of TDC’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel on 23 May councillors voted to recommend that UKIP Council Leader Chris Wells and his Cabinet colleagues “revert to the 2016/17 parking charges for the five seasonal car parks” Two weeks later councillors on TDC’s Joint Transport Committee unanimously voted to condemn the parking fee increases and the proposed on and off street parking expansion plans. Both committees argued that the fee hikes and parking expansion plans were unnecessary and unjustifiable. Both committees argued that the fee hikes and parking expansion plans would, as UKIP’s own Manifesto argues deter locals, visitors and tourists from our town centres and leisure areas because of “expensive or restricted parking”.
And its also the case that the new parking fees introduced by Council Leader Wells and his Cabinet colleagues in April make Thanet one of the most expensive places on the south coast to park. A quick internet check of Whitstable, Herne Bay, Hastings and Eastbourne revealed town centre charges ranging from 80p to 1.70 per hour and at Bexhill-on-Sea most car parking is free! Charges of up to £10.00 for 4 hours will undoubtedly deter tourists and locals alike from going to the beach or visiting Dreamland, Ramsgate seafront, or the Turner Contemporary and will seriously undermine the economic revival of Thanet
The stay-away motorists who are not using Thanet car parks, the growing public anger against TDCs parking policies, and the developing political revolt against the massively unpopular measures are beginning to isolate UKIP council leader Chris Wells and damage his credibility much like what is happening to out of touch Prime Minister,Theresa May. And just like Prime Minster May, Wells is becoming increasingly nervous and looking at ways to save his political skin and presumably his £22,600 council allowances as well. So much so that he announced in last weeks Thanet Gazette that “the cabinet will meeting shortly to reconsider this matter”.
And so it should because many people, myself included, believe the massive car parking fee increases and the proposed extension of new off and on street car parking schemes across Thanet are nothing less than an unnecessary and unfair stealth tax on locals and visitors alike. Thankfully this ill-conceived cash-grab has now blown up in the faces of those who thought it was a good idea. I suspect that at the next council elections in 2019 UKIP will pay a very heavy price for this debacle. Those UKIP councillors with any sense will of course already be in discussions with the Conservative, and possibly Labour Party, about changing sides my prediction is that Chris Wells will not be UKIP council leader much longer.