Venue: County Hall, Worcester
Contact: Samantha Morris/Alyson Grice Overview and Scrutiny Officers
Webcast: View the webcast
Apologies and Welcome
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the Meeting and thanked the members of the public for taking the time to attend the Meeting.
Apologies were received from Mr A Adams, Mr B W Allbut, Mrs J A Brunner and Mrs E A Eyre.
Declaration of Interest and of any Party Whip
The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Communities declared an interest in Item 5: Call-In of the Cabinet Member Delegated Decision on the Proposal to Introduce Parking Charges at Worcester Woods Country Park as a Member of the Board of the Malvern Hills Trust.
Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by e-mail indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 11 January 2019). Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.
There were 5 public participants and 3 written submissions in respect of Item 5 - Call-In of the Cabinet Member Delegated Decision on the Proposal to Introduce Parking Charges at Worcester Woods Country Park
1. Claire Pezzini-Rhodes
Claire explained her view that £60 per year for only 2 hours parking was a dreadful deal for a small community park! It was a flawed plan that would cause harm to the community and it was based on strategically selected half-truths.
The Cabinet Member with Responsibility (CMR) for Communities Report attempted to justify the charges by comparing with 7 other attractions including the Malvern Hills, Wyre Forest, Clent Hills and Coombe in Warwickshire, but there were some astonishing omissions. For example, the Report didn’t state that local residents could park for free at any of the Malvern Hills car parks for a twelfth of the price – only £5.20 per year or that the Wyre Forest was 60 times the size of Worcester Woods nor that a £30 per year pass would allow free parking at Wyre Forest and all Forestry commission sites. Half the price for 57 parks.
The CMR Report didn’t say that:
· National Trust members could park at the Clent Hills for free, alongside free parking and entry to 500 sites
· Coombe Park in Warwickshire offered local residents a substantial discount on parking charges, was five times bigger and designed by “Capability” Brown
· Waseley Hills was the only Worcestershire local authority park mentioned in the Report. It was 50% bigger than Worcester Woods and Worcestershire County Council charge £27 per year for an annual pass. In a local context, this was expensive.
Claire had researched 23 local authority owned parks and green spaces within Worcestershire and all had car parks which were free. None of these made the list within the Report! Not even Arrow Valley in Redditch which was 10 times the size of Worcester Woods and was free to park.
She didn't know of any other park that prevented an annual pass holder from parking all day. The 2-hour time restriction significantly reduced the value of the annual pass and didn’t seem to meet the needs of park users.
Claire said she was aware of 100's of people who used Worcester Woods for 3-5 hours at a time on a weekly basis. Those people were all part of communities that positively impact the health and wellbeing of 1000's. The charges proposal would significantly harm than good work.
The Report stated that the County Council had failed in its attempt to manage staff parking on the Country Park, so the high charges and 2-hour time restriction was designed to deter them and Claire suggested that if this was the rationale, why were the restrictions and high charges proposed for early mornings, evenings and weekends?
A 2 hour time restriction would not stop them. Many staff come to County Hall for a couple of hours at a time as they work out in the community. The staff ... view the full minutes text for item 1079.
Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 5 December 2018 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
In accordance with the Constitution, the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board (OSPB) was asked to consider a decision taken by the Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Communities on 21 November 2018 in relation to the Proposal to Introduce Parking Charges at Worcester Woods Country Park. This decision was called-in by the required number of Members and a copy of the call-in was attached to the Agenda.
In accordance with the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules and Scrutiny practice the following were invited to attend the meeting:
The following order for proceedings had been suggested:
Once it had heard from all parties and considered the decision called-in, the OSPB would need to consider whether to:
a) accept the decision without qualification or comment (in which case it can be implemented immediately without being considered again by the Cabinet or CMR); or
b) accept the decision (in which case it can be implemented immediately without being considered again by Cabinet or Cabinet Member) but with qualification or comment which the relevant CMR must consider and respond to; or
c) propose modifications to the decision or require a reconsideration of the decision (in which case the implementation of the decision is delayed until the Cabinet or CMR has received and considered a report of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board); or
d) in exceptional circumstances ask the Council to consider whether option (a) (b) or (c) is appropriate (in which case the implementation is delayed until after the meeting of the Council to which it has been referred and, if Council resolves option (c), the Cabinet or CMR has reconsidered the matter having regard to the Council’s view).
Members were reminded that the debate should focus on the decision-making process.
Presentation of the reasons for calling-in the decision
· Cllr Udall asked the Board to consider the request to suspend the Cabinet Member Decision and establish a Scrutiny Task Group to consider the proposal in much more detail. He suggested that the costs and implementation should be looked at, including the impact of implementation on individuals and user groups and alternative ways to generate income
· He acknowledged that although legally consultation was not required, he suggested that morally it would have been the right thing to do as the public outcry was deafening. The decision had generated significant public interest across generations with 5000 people signing a petition. In addition, ... view the full minutes text for item 1081.