Statement on Proposed Council Parking Charges

I learned with utter dismay of the new parking charges proposed by Labour-led Fife Council for railway stations and elsewhere throughout Fife.  These include Dunfermline Town, Dunfermline Queen Margaret, Ferrytoll Park and Ride and the planned Halbeath Park and Choose facility.

This is all completely contrary to the well-established public policy of encouraging drivers to shift to train, bus and car-share whenever possible. It will increase the already high costs of travel, at a time when people’s budgets are squeezed.  It is completely mad to push more cars back on the roads and may even undermine employment by out-pricing travel costs.

As a former Fife Councillor I served on the Environment, Enterprise and Transportation Committee for over four years, where we consistently opposed all attempts to impose such charges.  We also supported the Scottish Government’s removal of tolls on the Forth Road Bridge.

Now the new Labour-led Council seems intent of reversing this no-charge policy.  An initial daily charge of £2 would double for anyone parking overnight, and charges would of course be subject to future increases.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this unwelcome news in that the proposals are going directly to the Council’s Executive Committee without even being considered by the new Policy Advisory Group on Transport chaired by Cllr Pat Callaghan. Whatever happened to Labour’s election promises to “consult the people”? I hope this is not a sign of things to come.

I appreciate that in these times of budget restraint, the Council must ‘balance the books’ but this proposal is folly.  The Council should think again and find the revenue elsewhere or cut other costs appropriately.  Labour spent five years criticising the previous Administration at almost every turn.  Now in office, with Conservative and Independent support, they must live up to their promises to provide better and more consultative local government.

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