Campaigners lose fight to keep free residents’ parking permits in Portsmouth

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Cars parked in Southsea
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CAMPAIGNERS have lost their battle to keep free resident parking permits.

Councillors had put forward for review the decision made by Conservative traffic boss Ken Ellcome to charge people living in a parking zone for their first pass.

They felt he had come to a view based on ‘inaccurate’ and ‘inadequate information’.

But their pleas were thrown out yesterday as the Tory insisted he had the right expertise when making his decision and said charging will help claw back £380,000 in the traffic budget.

He assured the move was not being done to make the council profits from parking, which is illegal – despite critics believing otherwise.

Fratton resident and Lib Dem activist Dave Ashmore said: ‘We didn’t feel this was anything to do with justifying parking or with saving costs on infrastructure.

‘It was just about raising revenue.’

Lib Dem councillor Lee Hunt said £200,000 of the £380,000 figure was a ‘red herring’ as that money is set aside to create new parking zones – yet that cash is just being sat on because further schemes are not being introduced for the foreseeable future.

He added: ‘When the decision was made, Cllr Ellcome decided to delete the paragraph in the parking report which talked about the charge people should be consulted on.

‘So there is not sufficient information at all about what it could be – it could be £40, £50, £80, £100.’

He also pointed out the council scrapped money-making parking schemes in Southsea which could have avoided the need for charges.

‘I know how unpopular this move is,’ Cllr Hunt said. ‘People are extremely angry.’

Lib Dem councillor Michael Andrewes criticised Cllr Ellcome for choosing to ‘fleece’ residents rather than determining how to run resident parking schemes at a much cheaper rate.

But Cllr Ellcome’s decision stood after five members of a council scrutiny panel out of nine voted in favour of the decision staying the same.

Cllr Ellcome said: ‘Out of the 42 elected councillors, I could probably claim to have the most expertise in this field. For 13 years, I was the city’s parking manager.’ He reminded councillors the former Lib Dem administration put a halt to more new parking schemes being introduced in 2012 due to financial issues.

Residents will now be consulted over whether they want to pay up for a parking permit, or lose their zone altogether.