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Councillors call for pensioner volunteers to keep permits

AN army of older volunteers should not have their pensioner parking permits removed, say opposition councillors.

Parking (46093819)
Parking (46093819)

Stratford District Council is currently pushing through reforms to parking, which include proposals to remove permits for the over-65s.

A consultation on the idea is asking residents whether they would rather see the permits abolished or their price rocket from £10 to £150.

The council argues it is unfair to offer the discount – which equates to 97 per cent off – to just this section of the community and that huge financial pressure on the authority is forcing it to take difficult decisions.

But Liberal Democrat councillors have argued the move would be a nail in the coffin for Stratford town centre.

The party is calling for older volunteers, many of whom have served the town through the pandemic, to be excused and allowed to keep their permits.

Cllr Kate Rolfe said: “I've been arguing throughout that the pensioners' concession should be kept. If the cabinet is determined to make changes then I think exceptions should be made. They could reduce the length of stay to four hours and perhaps increase the price modestly, but there should be an exception to the changes for volunteers.

“We've seen during the pandemic how people have responded to help the community. To abolish the parking concession just as we're hopefully emerging from restrictions would give all the wrong messages to volunteers.”

Cllr Rolfe added that she had been contacted by volunteers concerned that they would not be able to continue their roles if they lost their passes or were forced to pay an increased rate.

She added that while the Lib Dems would prefer the existing permit scheme to remain at a reasonable cost, genuine volunteers should qualify for a pass at the existing rate or close to it.

Aside from the changes to pensioner permits, a general overall increase in off-street parking charges is on the cards, along with increased fees for overnight parking at Stratford Leisure Centre and other changes.

However, according to a freedom of information request earlier this year, the county and district councils appear to be on a different page regarding increased off-street fees.

The county has said it is opposed to the move because it will make on-street parking more expensive by comparison, and the authority would therefore be unlikely to grant consent, although the district council could increase the fees using a different process.

A motion calling for older volunteers to keep their pensioner parking permits will be tabled at the full meeting of Stratford District Council on 19th April.

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