Dear editor,

During May’s local election campaign, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats promised to keep car parking free in all council owned car parks in South Gloucestershire. The pledge was contained in both party’s manifestos, which can still be read online.

It’s therefore extremely disappointing to learn that the Lib Dem-Labour coalition that now runs the council will next year introduce car parking charges at car parks right across the district.

It’s even more disappointing to hear that the coalition is blaming the previous Conservative administration for introducing these charges.

Let me take this opportunity to set the record straight once and for all: this claim is completely and utterly untrue. The Conservative Group has never attempted, nor even desired, to introduce parking charges.

The budget approved by the council in February did not seek to introduce car parking charges in South Gloucestershire. Instead, what it did was ask officers to look at some potential options for raising revenue. Naturally, these options were not known at the time because the feasibility work had not yet been undertaken.

In August, following a study of potential schemes by officers, the introduction of parking charges was presented as a possibility. But members of the current administration are entirely free to accept or reject this proposal. All budget proposals that are taken forward are done so at the consent of the administration, and its current members may act as they see fit.

When in previous years the introduction of parking charges has been presented as a potential revenue raising scheme, the Conservative Group has always rejected it. The coalition should reject it this year, too.

We believe, and have always believed, that car parking charges are bad for residents, bad for businesses and bad for our high streets.

Car parking charges do not need to be introduced in South Gloucestershire, and we urge the coalition to reject them as we have done numerous times before.

Cllr Sam Bromiley, Leader of the Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council