Tories and Labour unite to oppose Lib Dem proposals to reverse car parking increases

At last night’s District Council budget meeting Labour councillors refused to support Liberal Democrat proposals to reverse the disastrous parking charges introduced by the Conservative administration – while some Tory members claimed that no shops had closed in St Albans since the introduction of Sunday parking.

“We were baffled to hear the Labour group decided not to support our motion to change the car parking regime, especially as they had already voted to change it at the July council meeting. It is clear that if you vote Labour in St Albans you are propping up the Tory Administration,” commented local Liberal Democrat councillor Gerard McHale.

“Over the course of the debate one Labour councillor commented that they believed that Sunday charges are fair in St Albans and encouraged St Albans shoppers to go to London Colney instead, showing that Labour cannot be trusted to look after our city centre.

“In addition to the car parking changes the Tory and Labour members failed to support changes to support flood victims, to reduce the backlog of resident parking and to provide bike racks in flats around the district” added Liberal Democrat group leader Chris White.

Lib Dems condemn grossly misleading District Council press release on parking

St Albans Liberal Democrat group has condemned as ‘grossly misleading’ the Conservative press release issued by the district council which claims that the cost of reversing last year’s car parking increase would be £1.6 million.

Lib Dem leader Chris White said: ‘I have the cabinet papers in front of me. The total cost of all possible options comes to £1.594 million. This comprises a menu of possibilities, some of which, eg removing the Sunday car parking charge in the civic centre’s own car park, come only to £13,000.

‘The larger figures in the menu have been provided by NCP, which has – to say the least – a vested interest. These costs are not audited or substantiated.’

Chris added: ‘It is not appropriate for the Conservatives to use council facilities to put out propaganda on the rates. I have made a formal complaint to the Chief Executive about this press release and demanded that it be withdrawn.’


12% fall in St Albans ‘footfall’ over past year

The Liberal Democrats have expressed concerns about the 12% in ‘footfall’ between 2013 and 2014.

Lib Dem Group Leader Chris White said: ‘In July 2013 there were 26690 visits to our shops. The equivalent count in July 2014 was 23540.

‘This means that there has been a 12% fall in trade in a single year – at a time when the economy in this part of the world is recovering.

‘It is quite clear that the council’s new parking regime is responsible for this very significant drop. The Administration now needs to respond to the clear wish of the council and revise this policy – and not revisit the cheap point scoring they attempted at last week’s council meeting.’

Council’s parking policy successfully challenged by Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat councillors have expressed satisfaction with the decision of St Albans District Council to in principle reverse the decision to increase parking charges made as part of last years budget process.

“This is an important step on the road towards reversing the introduction of Sunday charging and returning the amount of free parking at leisure facilities to 3 hours,” commented local councillor Gerard McHale.

“We have also requested that the introduction of one hour free parking on pay and display car parking be considered and look forward to hearing the report from Cabinet in Autumn”, Gerard added.

Chris White, Lib Dem Group Leader, who proposed the motion noted: “We strongly objected to this proposal when it was introduced last year, and we are now happier that this is now in the process of being reversed. We will continue to force the issue until the final process has been concluded.”

Proposals to ease traffic congestion and parking issues at schools

Recommendations to help address parking and congestion issues near schools in the District have been backed by St Albans City and District Council’s Local Services Scrutiny Committee.

Recommendations were made to the Scrutiny Committee by the Schools and Coaches Task and Finish Group at a meeting on 3 April. The Scrutiny Committee set up the Group after residents and councillors raised congestion and parking issues caused by coaches and traffic to and from some schools.

While looking into these issues, the Task and Finish Group received feedback and evidence from more than 100 residents, residents’ associations, businesses and schools.

Its recommendations include proposals to alleviate congestion caused by the transportation of pupils particularly in the Romeland, High Oaks and Upper Lattimore Road areas of St Albans. There are also proposals for the behaviour of coach drivers to be monitored and for changes to be made to some parking restrictions near schools. Many of the recommendations require the co-operation of various stakeholders, including schools, for them to be implemented. (more…)

Michael Green condemns parking Increase

St Peters ward councillor Michael Green has condemned large increases in the cost of certain parking charges imposed by the district council.

Residents in streets like Bedford, Alexandra and Inkerman Roads that lease car parking spaces from the district council are seeing charges rise from £171 to £210 per quarter. This represents a 22% increase, well above the current rate of inflation.

“These roads are narrow with parking only on one side of the road. The leased parking spaces provide additional capacity to the benefit not just of the leaseholders but of those that park their cars on-street,” said Michael.

“These should be run as a public service not a commercial operation. The Conservatives appear to be treating local residents as a cash cow.”

Council’s Audit Committee criticises on street parking regime

Councillor Robert Donald, Chair of the Audit Committee, commented:

“Parking in our District is a difficult enough business for residents at the best of times.  But when the Council has agreed to fix a specific local problem and nothing happens, affected residents understandably get very frustrated and annoyed.

“In my view, the parking team has been under resourced for some time which is reflected in a number of the issues that have emerged.  We now know, for example, that the painting of the necessary yellow lines and erecting of waiting restriction signs has been largely delayed due to not obtaining Traffic Regulation Orders.

“We expect that the actions agreed by our Committee will ensure that situation is reversed, particularly that Traffic Regulation Orders are implemented far more quickly in future. We will be reviewing progress in another report to check they are.”

Review into traffic issues caused by school coaches


A group of councillors from St Albans City and District Council is to look into traffic issues surrounding the transportation of pupils to school by coach.

The group wants to hear from residents about any issues they have faced with coaches travelling to and from local schools in their area.

The Local Services Scrutiny Committee set up a Schools and Coaches Task and Finish Group to look into this topic following concerns raised by residents and councillors.

Chris White, Chair of the Local Services Scrutiny Committee: “Some residents and councillors are concerned about traffic congestion caused by coaches transporting children to school. The Committee felt that this is a complex topic with many issues to consider. It has set up a sub-group to explore the matter in detail with the aim of coming up with possible solutions.”

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Damaged pay and display parking machines

St Albans City and District Council asks for drivers’ patience whilst it arranges repairs to damaged Pay and Display machines. Six machines have been damaged in a series of attempted thefts in the city.

Witnesses, or anyone with information about either of these incidents, should call the police on 101, or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Council refuses to find space for residents when Carlisle Avenue resurfaced, as officials fail to communicate

Email received by us from the district council:

Our initial thoughts were and are that whilst Carlisle Avenue carries a 2 hour restriction, the closest CPZ to it carries an all day restriction and is quite heavily subscribed. Whilst we understand that the resurfacing of Carlisle Avenue will cause some inconvenience, we believe that the surrounding uncontrolled roads and the other 2 hour restricted roads would be sufficient for any overspill. We feel that should residents of Carlisle Avenue be allowed to park in the heavily subscribed all day restricted zones then there is the potential for those residents within the all day zone to justifiably make complaints.

With regard to Townsend car park (an NCP Car Park), this only has 33 spaces, is normally near to capacity during the week and we do not have an arrangement within the NCP contract to transfer residents to car parks.

We do get a work schedule from HCC at the beginning of the year; however it does change (presumably due to the weather and unforeseen circumstances), is not updated and we are not notified just before any works are due to start. We are however approaching HCC to improve the communications between us.