We’ll block car park - if we can
I joined the ‘Pilgrimage for Clean Air’ in Canterbury on Saturday. Local residents and campaigners marched from St Dunstan’s Church to the proposed site of the new car park in Station Road West and into the city centre. This was a cross-political party initiative organised by The Canterbury Society.
The purpose was to show the strength of local feeling against the proposed car park and to highlight the serious and increasing problem of pollution in the St. Dunstan’s area and Canterbury in general.
As a councillor for Westgate, the ward where the car park will be built, I have received more than 100 emails in opposition to the car park from concerned residents and only one in favour. It really is unacceptable for the ruling Conservative group to continue to ignore the views of Westgate and Canterbury residents.
The proposed car park is misguided, not just because of the additional pollution and congestion that it will bring to the St. Dunstan’s area, but for a number of other reasons too. At a cost of almost £10 million it is a huge waste of public money; money that could be much better spent on other more important matters, such as starting to address the housing crisis in Canterbury where there are more than 2,500 families without a home and currently on the council’s housing needs register. Furthermore, at the main entry point to historic Canterbury, home of Unesco world heritage sites, do we really want the first impressions of hundreds of thousands of visitors to be that of an ugly, municipal car park? Finally, the car park is not necessary as there are a number of empty spaces in Station Road West every day.
The proposed car park will not contain a lift. There will be parking for blue badge holders at ground floor level but many people who have “disabilities” as defined by The Equality Act 2010 do not qualify for a blue badge. These people, plus older people and parents with young children, including those in prams, will have no option but to use the stairs. In my opinion, this is unacceptable.
I have spoken and voted against the car park on a number of different occasions, including at the planning and full council meetings, where it was unfortunately passed. The Labour councillors for Northgate, Alan Baldock and Jean Butcher, have done the same.
If Labour gain control of Canterbury City Council in the elections on May 2 this year we will stop the car park if it’s not too late to do so (too much work may have been done by then and/or penalty clauses under the contract for its construction may be operational).
In May, voters in Canterbury can chose what direction they want the city to take over the next four years. The choice is between pursuing projects such as the car park, which is a waste of public money, under the Conservatives, or spending more money on muchneeded social housing and other essential services under Labour.
As I write, only preliminary work on diverting a sewer under Station Road West has taken place and actual construction of the car park is not due to commence until the end of February. It is still not too late for the council to listen to the people of Canterbury and abandon this environmentally flawed and financially wasteful scheme.
The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number. Write to Room B119 Canterbury College, New Dover Road, Canterbury CT1 3AJ fax 01227 762415, email ken[email protected]mgroup.co.uk