PARKING DEADLOCK PROOF COUNCIL HAS NO VISION

High Street for Notebook caption with copy by Bill
Dumbarton High Street is full of parked cars all day, every day, making it impossible to pass buses or to park and shop there. Picture by Bill Heaney

SNP/TORIES poised to introduce parking at work charges

By Bill Heaney

Dumbarton, since the new West Dunbartonshire Council offices opened in the Burgh Hall in Church Street, has been the target for criticism about parking.

The SNP/Tory council, lacking in vision as usual, attempted to sell the idea of moving their offices from Garshake to Church Street, where the Burgh Hall has been refurbished at a cost of £15 million,  as something that would increase footfall and breathe new life into the High Street.

However, instead of reviving the town centre, they have choked it, leaving shops and businesses completely bereft of clients and customers.

But West Dunbartonshire Council is not in the least apologetic about the situation and are trying to pass this off as a Green issue while others see it as an act of desperation brought about by the fact they could not foresee the consequences of moving 500 staff from Garshake to Church Street when they did.

They are seldom contrite for the cack-handed policies they inflict on the electorate and demonstrated that again in this instance by refusing to engage with The Democrat and retreating behind their “no comment” policy when they are asked hard questions.

The community is united as one that something must be done soon to protect the town centre from the current chaos which has been largely brought about by council staff bringing their vehicles to work.

It is hoped that the SNP Government can find a solution to this parking problem in towns like Dumbarton, which have similar problems.

To this end, the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee is today launching an online survey to gauge views on the proposed workplace parking levy at www.parliament.scot/WorkplaceParkingSurvey.

The proposal to give Scottish local authorities the ability to charge organisations for workplace parking spaces, as can happen in England and Wales at present, emerged from budget negotiations between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party, led by Dumbarton man Patrick Harvie.

John Finnie MSP has now lodged an amendment to the Transport (Scotland) Bill, backed by the Scottish Government, which would introduce the necessary legal changes to give councils this additional power.

The Committee is seeking views from the public to better understand what people think about the measure, as well as holding two evidence sessions on 22 and 29 May to consider how the levy might work in practice. The Committee’s online survey will run until 20 May.

The SNP leader locally, Cllr Jonathan McColl, was not available to comment on this issue to The Democrat, which he is boycotting along with his SNP party colleagues and the Council administration where he keeps power with the help of the two Tory councillors and Independent Bailie Denis Agnew.

However, speaking about the survey, the Parliament’s Committee Convener, Edward Mountain MSP, said:  “Giving councils this additional power could result in extra financial costs to businesses, public bodies and individual commuters. It would also give local authorities who wish to discourage commuting by car an extra tool to achieve this.

“While we know that the idea has divided opinion across Scotland, to help MSPs properly consider this proposal, we want to hear from as many people as possible.

“Please let us know what you think about the workplace parking levy by visiting www.parliament.scot/WorkplaceParkingSurvey.”

The amendment itself is likely to be debated and voted on in the Committee on 19 June.

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