Tonight Croydon Council's Traffic Management Committee discussed Labour proposals to scrap free parking in Coulsdon Town.
Almost 2,000 residents had written to the Council objecting to their proposals to remove one-hour free parking. Every local Residents' Association, many local businesses, the Member of Parliament, the GLA member and the six Councillors for Coulsdon West and Coulsdon East all joined these objections.
In the run up to the 2014 local elections, Labour promised:
'To support our local economies, our district centres will offer free parking for the first hour. This will not only make shopping easier for residents but will also support our local traders in difficult times.'
These words can be found on page 15 of Labour's 'Ambitious for Croydon' manifesto.
Labour won that election, and despite this Cllr Kathy Bee, the Labour Cabinet member in charge of transport, has gone back on her clear pledge.
During the meeting, Cllr Robert Canning (Lab) said that he felt in hindsight that Labour shouldn't have made that manifesto promise. Cllr Bee said that she thought "it wasn't the best idea". Cllr Stephen Mann loudly defended Labour's u-turn, but when asked whether he disagreed with his manifesto pledge before, during or after making it, he remained surprisingly silent.
Despite objections on the night from passionate residents, Chris Philp MP, Steve O'Connell GLA, Cllrs Mario Creatura and Luke Clancy, the vote was as follows:
In favour of scrapping one-hour free parking in Coulsdon:
- Cllr Kathy Bee (Lab)
- Cllr Stuart King (Lab)
- Cllr Stephen Mann (Lab)
- Cllr Robert Canning (Lab)
Opposing the removal of one-hour free parking in Coulsdon:
- Cllr Yvette Hopley (Con)
- Cllr Phil Thomas (Con)
You can watch a video of Labour voting to scrap one-hour free parking here.
No wonder the public has so little trust in our elected representatives. Labour promised not to remove one-hour free parking. Labour, once elected, have removed one-hour free parking. If you feel this isn't right or fair, you can write to the local papers using firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Trust in local and national politicians is not high, but at the very least it's surely reasonable to expect that we honour our words before elections with actions afterwards? Many may have voted for Labour in 2014 based on their manifesto pledges. Breaking a clear pledge is nothing more than an attempt at political sleight of hand, designed to explain away a complete disregard for the commonsense of the electorate, and the promises made before being awarded power.
When the next local elections come about in 2018, we we hope Croydon won't make the same mistake again.