PARKING: Tories first to propose plan

It’s a pity that Coun Scott Dickinson couldn’t resist spoiling an otherwise fair letter about the more reasonable approach of parking wardens these days with a blame game attack on Coun Peter Jackson, and Conservative councillors generally, for not supporting the Labour Group budget in which his administration’s free parking measures were contained.

It is clear from council minutes that Conservatives were the first to speak up for free residents’ parking. So it is to Labour’s credit that they have conceded the case and introduced free parking early on, which is supported by everyone except the Lib Dems, who are still not in favour.

Conservatives, including me, have for years railed against the former imbalance in parking charges across the county and we put forward a scheme that was very similar, but differed mainly in preferring to lessen the financial impact by exempting NCC residents from charges but requiring visitors to pay.

The scheme adopted by Labour is still more than acceptable and I have yet to hear of a Conservative councillor against it.

Voting against a budget does not mean that everything in it is unacceptable, only that too much is. Without rehearsing our list of objections, I can only say that Coun Dickinson’s logic suggests that every councillor who voted for his budget must have wanted everything in it. This is like claiming that voting against or for a politician means being against or for everything they have done, said or stood for – an improbable scenario.

In any attempt to be fair to political opponents, one risks being cast by them as approving all they do. This must be tiresome to many voters who just expect us to get on with supporting what seems best for the county and opposing what doesn’t.

If the Labour budget had contained nothing but their proposals for free parking it would have got my support and that of all Conservatives. Unfortunately, in a budget with many key details omitted in major areas of policy, together with capital spend plans to rebuild County Hall, there was a great deal that could not be accepted and I would fill these pages going over ground already covered.

I fear the consequences will become increasingly apparent as the months progress.

Gordon Castle,

County Councillor,

Alnwick.