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Pensioner parking permit removal branded unjust

Plans to scrap a concessionary parking pass for those aged over 65 driving into Stratford town centre have been called unfair and unjust.

Kate Rolfe (47625056)
Kate Rolfe (47625056)

The proposal is one of a number to be considered by members of Stratford District Council’s cabinet when they meet next month with increased charges for motorhomes using the town’s leisure centre car park also on the agenda.

But it was the proposed scrapping of the concessionary scheme, which costs £10 for a year-long pass for three town centre car parks, that prompted the most discussion at this week’s overview and scrutiny committee.

Cllr Kate Rolfe (Lib Dem, Tiddington) questioned the consultation carried out with the 1,537 permit holders.

She said: “The survey is flawed, it only gave people two options – to pay £150 or not to have a permit. People I’ve spoken to said they didn’t know what to do so put a cross against not paying £150. You have interpreted that as abolishing the permit.

“Many residents offered solutions and three main points have been raised – raise the age to over 70, increase the cost to £25 and shorten the hours of use to four hours a day.

“As a scrutiny committee we are here to delve deeper into the policies and plans which will have an effect on our residents. Removing this small but essential benefit for some residents is unfair, unjust and totally unnecessary. This is an opportunity for this district council to be seen as a leader and a beacon for our residents.”

Cllr Rolfe added that many of those she had spoken to said they would head elsewhere if the pass was abolished.

She said: “We have no tourists at the moment. It is the older generation that is using our town and if we lose that then our town will go under.”

Committee chair Cllr Penny-Anne O’Donnell (Con, Ettington) said it was all about finding the right balance.

She explained: “We are coming out of a pandemic and there are people we are trying to encourage who have been shielding for up to 18 months to come back into town. Yes they can still pay to use the car parks but for some people that is really difficult on a state pension.

“I can see that the £10 permit is costly for the council and we are trying to find revenue streams. But we also have a duty to the people who need to come in and mix again socially, use the bank and get back to normal life and that consideration isn’t apparent from the consultation.

“That holistic, caring aspect towards our residents is missing. We have the green waste subscription coming in, we’ve increased their council tax and now do you know what folks, we’re taking away your over-65s permit!”

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