Thursday, July 29, 2010

Green Car Park Madness

Abbey Ward councillors are certainly providing good entertainment value at the moment for avid local politics watchers.

First we had the Labour councillor at full council a week ago claiming that zero-rated VAT goods included hidden VAT payments for the input costs of producing and selling the items. Hint: next time you waste council time debating national policies it's probably best to do your homework first...

Now the Cambridge News reports Green councillors wanting to replace Park Street car park with so-called 'affordable' housing. The car park, which also includes secure cycle parking, is in need of major work or replacement. Originally budgeted at c. £1m it seems the cost may now exceed £2m.

This call is plainly bonkers. Apart from the significant loss of amenity and the effect on city centre trade the loss of the car park would punch a hole in one of the city council's most lucrative sources of income.

The council's budget setting report doesn't appear to break down the figure by car park and doesn't make it easy to find all the associated costs but gives a projection of £7.5m in annual car parking income. Even at the higher end of the scale for the cost of sorting out Park Street car park it is hard to imagine that it wouldn't still be a good value investment. Of course, Coleridge Conservatives would encourage the city council to do its best to keep the costs down!

Just as crazy, however, is the suggestion that it should be so-called 'affordable' housing that the site is used for. How is it good value for council taxpayers and the purchasers of unaffordable housing (anyone not eligible for the 'affordable' stuff) to subsidise accomodation on a prime site in the centre of the city?


Anonymous said...

If you'd like to take others to task for lack of homework perhaps you'd like to do more research when producing your propaganda leaflets. The item about the council refusing to replace TV aerials for digital switchover seems to completely ignore the fact that once digital switchover is complete hardly anyone will need a new aerial to continue to watch the public service TV broadcasts. See

Yes, a wide-band aerial is currently required to receive digital terrestrial TV but that will change when analogue is switched off.

Andrew Bower said...

Hello Anonymous,

That's not true for all of the multiplexes:

And besides, the city council stopped maintaining the analogue aerials since March 2009, which will remain an issue.

Chris Howell said...

I don't think this is particularly fair comment from anonymous - it remains to be seen who will need a new aerial. The point is that for many tenants, the Council is no longer (as of March 2009) maintaining their analogue aerial (some of which are communal aerials), and furthermore is not providing clear help or guidance to tenants as to how they can cope with the changeover. Advice may include do nothing and carry on using existing aerials, but even then it is unclear how arrangements for joint maintenance of communal aerials would work going forwards if the landlord is abdicating responsibility.

I think it is quite right for local Councillors to raise this issue to try and get a better service from the Council for constituents. There is no comparison with Labour abusing a Council meeting to discuss a national policy over which the Council has no control, for purely political purposes, when they have (locally or nationally) proposed no alternatives that meet the vital policy objective of reducing the budget deficit, and then misrepresent the consequences of the policy by failing to understand that an increase in VAT does not result in higher prices for zero VAT goods such as basic foodstuffs.

Anonymous said...

@Andrew: Which is why I said public service broadcasts.

Surely anyone that continues to be able to watch BBC1&2, ITV and Channel 4 after analogue switch off hasn't lost anything? They will have gained many other channels (including a watchable Channel 5, BBC3&4, all the BBC red button facilities and HD if they have the necessary equipment) by this process. The fact that they won't get some other commercial channels is, in my view, unimportant.

@Chris: Those issues are all separate to the main point you made (based admittedly on my memory since I don't have it in front of me now) in your leaflet. I believe that the information you provided perpetuated the myth that the majority will need an expensive new aerial system come analogue switch off which sites like are working hard to dispel.

cobweb said...

Back on topic, I don't agree that turning the car park into housing is madness. Far from it. I rather applaud a scheme that would reduce congestion and provide much needed accommodation for people plus use a real brownfield site.

Equinox said...

Has the Council or developer done an impact assessment on any of the proposals?

i.e. what would the economic impact be on local firms if the car park was taken down and replaced with housing?