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Torbay councillors divided amid parking permits row

By Herald Express  |  Posted: September 07, 2012

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PARKING permits for council staff and elected members is dividing councillors.

Both Conservative and Lib-Dem councillors have agreed to pay a flat £50 fee for an annual parking permit while other members believe the issue should still be debated further across all parties.

It comes as council staff are being offered a £1 a day parking option which could mean staff end up paying £300 a year for a parking permit regardless of their earnings.

Staff would then be paying six times more than elected members.

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The discrepancies have been criticised by some members who are calling on a review of the scheme and greater fairness towards staff and greater parking fairness towards Torbay residents.

Independent councillor Mike Morey has written to the Conservative group and Bay mayor Gordon Oliver to reach a cross-party consensus.

He said: "The issue has come back as a fait accompli. We should have carried on talking about it.

"I feel that staff and members should be treated the same. But the Conservatives decided not to go down that route and now it has been imposed on people.

"Trying to talk to them feels like hitting your head against a brick wall."

Labour councillor Darren Cowell agreed saying the present system was unfair and did not address the fact that nothing was being offered to make parking permits more affordable for residents.

He said: "I have refused the £50 parking permit. I will continue to do so until we can have a solution which recognises the different staff salary scales. To have members pay less than staff is unfair. To have staff pay the same regardless of how much they earn is unfair. Not to offer improved car parking permit facilities for our residents is unfair."

However both Conservative and Lib Dem councillors defended the policy for member permits.

Lib Dem Cllr Ruth Pentney said: "Members have taken two pay cuts in recent years. We used to have free parking passes and now they cost £50. We're basically working for less than the minimum wage.

"To bring back people into the town centre we have to cut the cost of parking right down. Make it really cheap. We also have to look at new incentive for residents' car parking."

Tory Cllr Robert Excell agreed with the Lib Dem position saying that it was better for the party members to choose the £50 a year parking permit option than to pay the same as staff and claim parking costs back on expenses.

He added: "In fact we are giving something back to the community by choosing this option. It is better that way to take it as a bonus than to have the £1 a day option and claim it back on expenses.

"We haven't had a pay rise in five years, we took a five per cent pay cut recently and we are one of the lowest paid councillors in the country.

"The £50 parking permit is more beneficial to the community."

Torbay GMB Union has written to Torbay Council raising its concerns over charges for staff parking and parity.

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  • themightyflea  |  September 07 2012, 9:21PM

    Throughout the comments here, once again, we see a resounding vote of confidence in our hard-working, self-effacing and grossly underpaid representatives.

    Rate   -4
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  • hughanchor  |  September 07 2012, 3:05PM

    To "excel" means to be exceptionally good or proficient in a subject or activity. To "Excell" clearly doesn't mean the the same thing at all.

    Rate   19
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  • Cruey  |  September 07 2012, 3:02PM

    Well that says it all , Cllr Pentney says ....working for less than the minimum wage.....ummm working I would question with many of them ........ lots of Cllr's have a job as well as playing at serving the public, they do not work 24/7 in this role as some would have you believe, in fact they can choose if they attend meetings and still get paid for it if they don't.I would say stop moaning for goodness sake, you chose to put yourself forward to SERVE US.and if it it so terrible resign....simples

    Rate   1
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  • Dave_David  |  September 07 2012, 12:29PM

    "That is why I am calling to scrap the members' permit and urge councillors to do as I am and join the staff scheme." so says Cowell he is suppose represent us, or at least some of us, he is not employed by the council so what makes him think he works for the council. hughanchor hits the nail on the head, Excell looks after number one no one else. The lot of them use the allowances as pin money to supplement their pensions. I was outside the Town Hall yesterday and the saving grace for Torquay is a flea bitten market that litters the pavement, that is the way forward...NOT.

    Rate   10
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  • ineedtherapy  |  September 07 2012, 12:07PM

    Seems like the usual Conserbative approach - look after ourselves and to hell with the rest of you. Pay for your parking - get a receipt - claim it on your expenses and nobody is going to mind. But only when you are on official council business. To be given a permit to park 365 days of the tear for £ 50 is nothing but obscene

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  • mystie0110  |  September 06 2012, 11:02PM

    If these councillors were any good at their jobs they would ensure fair council tax, fair parking charges and a council that is efficient. Who are these guys working for, us or themselves??? They should be prepared to pay the same for parking as everyone else! However if they were doing their jobs properly parking charges wouldn't even be an issue. Why should these people get cheap parking anyway? If being a councillor doesn't pay, as is suggested by the article, and they feel the need to moan about their allowances, then they should give up the job to people who can serve Torbay better!! Councillors - should pay the same as everyone else for parking! Period!

    Rate   9
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  • mystie0110  |  September 06 2012, 11:02PM

    If these councillors were any good at their jobs they would ensure fair council tax, fair parking charges and a council that is efficient. Who are these guys working for, us or themselves??? They should be prepared to pay the same for parking as everyone else! However if they were doing their jobs properly parking charges wouldn't even be an issue. Why should these people get cheap parking anyway? If being a councillor doesn't pay, as is suggested by the article, and they feel the need to moan about their allowances, then they should give up the job to people who can serve Torbay better!! Councillors - should pay the same as everyone else for parking! Period!

    Rate   10
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  • Azriel22  |  September 06 2012, 10:57PM

    .... "Lib Dem Cllr Ruth Pentney said: "Members have taken two pay cuts in recent years. We used to have free parking passes and now they cost £50. We're basically working for less than the minimum wage." What a load of cods-wallop: Was it not the Loony Libs Leader Harris that brought the council into disrepute with a 25% rise in allowances leading to the famous front page "For goodness sake go"? Cllr. Pentney and others must be aware that expenses for attending official business are always claimable against Councillor's expenses and to be allowed to park otherwise than on council business for fifty quid a year is scandalous. If these people can't get it into their heads that the cash they receive are allowances for, supposed, Public Service and not salary or wages it's a very poor show. Mind you the standard of debate at the few meetings that I've attended leaves very much to be desired. Just a few newcomers with the chance to breath new life into the corpse but the entrenched die-hards make progress unlikely. Too many of the Torbay crew have, in Cromwell's (probable) immortal words, "Have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. ... Depart, I say, and let us have done with you." Many - too many - are supplementing adequate pensions and have certainly sat in this place far too long to be a driving force for future prosperity. Also why should council employees be given a discount of £250 against a standard permit? It's obvious that 'essential users' will get the whole rebated and still have the new benefit.

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  • nicold  |  September 06 2012, 6:45PM

    How about they do what most workers do?.... try and find a free parking place, find a car park, use the bus!

    Rate   16
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  • woodie2010  |  September 06 2012, 6:01PM

    Councillors are paid an allowance to cover the expenses of fulfilling the role. They should pay the going rate for parking from that allowance. Far from taking a percentage cut, 18 out of 22 tory councillors have all been given extra responsibilities for which they receive additional allowances so many are on at least £12k now. No wonder there is no political will to look at the parking charges and parking restrictions across the Bay.

    Rate   17
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