MP condemns parking charges

Chantry centre carpark

Romsey MP Sandra Gidley has condemned Test Valley’s recent increase in parking charges as “cynical and counter productive.”

“With petrol prices hitting 117p a litre across Hampshire” she says “visitors will be harder to attract to towns like Romsey and Andover. The Conservative controlled council’s move to introduce large increase in car parking charges in a post election year is both cynical and ill timed.”

 The higher charges are an extra tax on those who make essential journeys into town and could well drive shoppers away to larger towns.

Mrs Gidley added “We are at the start of a make-or-break opportunity for many businesses struggling to stay afloat. It seems perverse that the council is undermining their own efforts to help businesses at this crucial time by slapping large increases on parking charges.”

The increased charges were introduced to fill the large hole in council revenues left by the poor returns from rents on the borough’s run down industrial estates.

Local Labour party spokesmen have yet to comment on the increase in parking charges or on the government’s failure to manage fuel prices.

Action on Smannell and Enham buses

With Nigel at the bus stop in Little London

I am happy to join Smannell Lib Dem campaigner and transport consultant Nigel Gooding in launching a campaign to provide a greener, safer, reliable bus service to Andover Railway Station from Smannell, Little London and Enham Alamein.Nigel, who was responsible for establishing the award winning National Rail Enquiry Service, has undertaken a survey of public transport in the villages of Smannell, Little London and Enham. His findings found that despite daytime CANGO Hampshire County Council time services to Andover, no bus service actually went to Andover Railway Station. As a result residents of the 2 parishes were left with no alternative to use their motor cars and fight for a parking space at the under pressure Andover station car park. We have passed the details of their findings to Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Smannell and Enham Parish Councils Robin Hughes who said today. “It makes economic and environmental sense that Smannell and Enham to have the same opportunities as other parishes in terms of the provision of a commuter CANGO bus service linking road and rail at Andover Station.

For full details see the Smannell Lib Dem blog at

Carr refuses to allow debate

Test Valley Tory leader Ian Carr has refused to allow borough councillors the right to debate and decide on the future of Farepass funding for hospital cars. “No, no. How many times to I have to say no” he said describing the scheme which pays for the elderly and infirm to travel to hospital as a “drain on resources.”

Successive Lib Dem councillors, led by Romsey mayor Mark Cooper, argued the policy which cuts funding for community car services to pay for free bus travel was flawed and should be debated and decided by full council but Carr refused to budge. The scheme will be reviewed by the council Scrutiny Committee during the coming year.

Tories Fail to Deliver

In August Test Valley Borough Council removed the skate ramp from Smannell Road because it was badly damaged by vandals. In November Cllr Phil North reported on his website that “he had secured from the portfolio holder for leisure Cllr. Caroline Nokes a date for a temporary one to be installed. The new facility will be in place by the 21st November 2007.”

Residents are still waiting over a month later for the installation to take place. I can report that the temporary ramp will not be installed because it could not be moved from its current location. There are no plans at present to replace the ramp at Smannell Road. I will be pursuing this matter with TVBC Leisure Department.