Labour councillors have accused the Tory administration running Southend-on-Sea City Council of playing fantasy economics after they voted through an uncosted change to parking charges.
At a recent meeting of the Place Scrutiny Committee, a paper was considered that proposed to remove parking charges in Zone 1A after 6pm and to cover the loss in revenue by creating new parking bays with claims that it could add £500k in revenue to the council.
Cllr Tony Cox, Leader of the Council, answered councillors questions in place of Cllr Buck, Cabinet Member for Highways, who was accused of “ducking scrutiny” after only turning up to one third of scrutiny meetings.
The Leader of the Council was taken to task on bringing a paper through that claimed 448 new parking spaces could be found in Zone 1A that would raise £535k in revenue despite no analysis or map of where the bays could be created.
Cllr Matt Dent, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said “This report wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. No safety audits have been undertaken and the Tories are proposing to create unsafe spaces that do not take into account the needs of families or people with disabilities. The numbers didn’t add up and the Leader had no answers to our questions. I worry that the Tories have approved a paper that will have severe financial implications for the council or will be underwritten with unsafe parking spaces.”
Cllr Daniel Cowan, Leader of the Labour Group said “It seems that every time the Tories bring a paper through that it is costing the council more money with no detail on how the budget gap will be addressed. They are playing pure fantasy economics again. This report is the worst report I have ever seen on this council and they are taking a huge risk with our highways budget. There are a whole lot of ifs, buts, and maybes to just break even on the money they’re taking out of the budget and this will have a direct impact on the quality of our roads.“
Mr Cowan suggested the leader bring the paper back with proper costings and a map of proposed spaces but committee voted in favour of report carried by the votes of Conservative members and the casting vote of Cllr Ron Woodley.