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Residential parking blackspots targeted
MORE borough residential parking blackspots are to be tackled after council leaders did a £500,000 U-turn.
Today, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s decision-making Conservative Cabinet is set to approve releasing the six-figure sum to tackle some of the worst problem parking areas in the borough.
This cash injection will dramatically increase the amount set aside to improve parking provision to £1.1million over the next four years.
The £500,000 is in addition to the annual £141,000 budget for borough-wide parking improvement programmes.
Council deputy leader Councillor Ranil Jayawardena billed the move as the “right thing for residents”, while the Labour opposition, who have campaigned on the issue, said it was a “welcome U-turn”.
It is hoped the money will speed up a sluggish rate of improvements.
Seven years ago, a list, ranked by priority, identified 385 streets that needed attention – but since it was published, fewer than 20 have been improved.
The problems of congested streets, and a chronic shortage of parking bays were highlighted by The Gazette last October.
At the time, Cllr Cathy Osselton, Conservative Cab-inet member for partnerships, insisted enough money was being spent on the issue.
And a motion presented to full council in November by the Labour opposition, calling for a £1m cash injection into the borough’s parking programme, was voted down by the Conservatives.
Presenting the new plan, Conservative borough council leader Cllr Clive Sanders said the cash injection has been influenced by the findings of the borough’s recent residents’ survey.
He said that the motion presented by the Labour opposition to release £1m was not backed by the Conservatives because the plan was “financially illiterate”. Labour had urged the council to set aside £1m of the £3.5m budget surplus the council banked during 2011-12.
“That was a paper under-spend,” said Cllr Sanders. “There was never the £1m at the time to spend which is why we voted it down.”
Labour deputy group leader Cllr Paul Harvey, who proposed the original motion, welcomed the U-turn but said it should have happened sooner.
“£500,000 is a significant uplift,” he said. “Nobody is going to say the money is not a good thing – it’s just taken them six years, a council motion, and a petition to do it. There was nothing wrong with our proposal.”