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Who voted to charge to park in parks? Time to remember.

Updated: Jul 13, 2023


Wednesday, 28th June 2023 at 6:30pm 

The Labour, Liberal Democrats and Independent Group, who were in charge of the Council up until May 5th, approved in their budget to charge Southend citizens, and everyone else, to park in our parks.

Had they been successful at the ballot box, that part of the budget would have been implemented.

So few people are aware of just how close we were to these new charges, but I am determined to ensure Southend remembers what was going to happen and by whom.

It is now clear, given that the Southend Conservatives have amended their budgets to accommodate the fictitious amount of forecasted money that was to be taken into the council coffers due to parking in parks, that Southend Labour, Southend Liberal Democrats and the Independent Group’s decision to do this was a choice.  It was optional.  They did not have to do this, but they did it all the same.

We were led to believe that the budget could not be moved.  That any who even suggested it were practically fantasists and were clueless in the highbrow concept of balancing the books.  But here we are, the Southend Conservative’s move has indeed hammered down the previous coalition’s inexplicable decision.

Councillor's Branded

Being that the Conservatives have found a way I would like to ask the now opposition what was so hard?  What questions did they ask?  What alternatives were there that they knew of?  And on a moral basis, how could they think it was right?

What we now know is that the people who represent those parties made a delinquent    decision.

This should stick.  Any councillor who had voted for the budget will know that their personal voting record cannot be changed.  They are branded and there is no going back.  Often you will hear politicians state they made the decision with the information they had at the time, and that their decision would be different with the new information that has come to light.

I agree. Context and circumstance is everything, but there are some things that should be screamingly obvious, and charging to park in our parks is one of them.

Hiding in plain site

I was impressed with just how far a Labour Councillor would go to extricate themselves from their part in implementing charging in our parks, teetering rather close to hiding in plain sight.

For context, the Southend Conservative Party has found 448 extra parking spaces that are forecasted to more than pay for retaining free parking in our parks amongst other things.  (Incidentally, this information was made available to the previous coalition). These spaces had been identified in the Cabinet report and none, as stated by the Portfolio Holder, were to affect the roads this particular Labour Councillor was trying to protect for his residents.

All the same, after being invited to the Cabinet meeting (presumably by pro-active request), he asked his questions about these roads and the answer from the Portfolio Holder confirmed promptly that indeed they were never in the plan.

Walk away - non-mission accomplished!

Instead he parades himself on social media like some kind of Roman conqueror as he began his victory parade implying that he himself had effectively changed the course of the Conservative's evil plan!

He didn't. He voted for Southend to pay to park in parks. He asked questions to Cabinet about their plan to fund the free parking in parks by taking parking away from residents in several roads in the ward he represents. The plans never included this and his victory march was based on next to nothing. The recommendations set out by the Leader of the Council were only what they were already doing.

The criticism here is not that he asked the questions in the first place, they were perfectly valid; he read the report and observed that there may be an anomaly. It is the fact that this plan only existed in the first place to clear up the mess that he and his colleagues had left and was portraying himself the champion of the people fighting for something that didn't exist!

Manifestos Promises

Aside from suffering this individual showcase of local political borderline hypocrisy, the point here is that free parking in parks remains threatened and could, given the wrong people in charge, rear it’s ugly head in the future.

Although the budget announcements were made before the election, neither Labour, Libs or Indies put this in their manifestos.  I can understand why, but this is disingenuous. They would have had no mandate for this policy and yet they may have claimed to have given the pre-election budget announcements that few pay attention to.

There were a raft of budget decisions that were about to inflict Southend from the coalition that I shall also be reminding people about in due course, but none also, it should be noted, made their manifestos.

It isn’t too much to brag about the fact that all the policies Southend Confelicity wants to implement will go into our manifesto, however, just to confirm, that is what we will be doing.

So if ever there is a time where we think it is a great idea to charge to park in our parks, you will see it in the pamphlet, and with it, justifiably, any hopes of us becoming Southend's major party!

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Brian Ayling
Brian Ayling
Jul 03, 2023

Well said James and about time someone is prepared to tell the truth. The whole matter of Local Councils need to be reviewed (many facing bankruptcy playing fast and loose with residents Council Tax and parking fees) and hopefully our MP's will put some effort into restoring local democracy. I also believe that insincere Councillors should be identified but the actual roles of Council Officers needs to be reviewed.

Keep up the good work Confelicity and one day we may have a Council that really cares about our City. (Although the current Tory administration has started rather well!)

Brian Ayling

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