The most publicised motion was for putting more money into improving car parking capacity in our residential areas. If you were wondering why no one had thought of this before, it is because they did.
It was back in October 2004 that a motion was moved to address the issue. At that time it had full party support and on the back of it a list of sites was drawn up and a budget commitment made every year for funding.
What caused the problem?
Not unique to Basingstoke. The older part of town was built when few had even seen a car. The London over spill estates were built when the working class were likely not to have a car or only one if they did. 40-50 years on most adults have a car. The housing shortage means 4 adults in the same house is not unusual so car ownership has gone from 0.5 cars per home to 4 cars per home in some streets, result - parking chaos, blocked roads, neighbour disputes etc.
Why the new motion?
Well the Council has a budget surplus and so a one off £1m boost to the car parking fund would be affordable. Also the list of problem roads stands at 400, 8 years on I bet many new roads could be added. The Council are completing 3 a year. So a 133 year wait before we've go through the list!
So who supported it?
Well Labour see it as a priority (I know, 30 minutes earlier housing benefit changes were the priority, that's normal for Labour, you get used to it. - changing their minds every 30 mins. If a debate lasted long enough they would get up to speak against themselves!).
Lib Dems (including me) spoke in favour and Independents supported it as well. The Tories mostly voted against with a few abstentions. The UKIP cllr also voted against putting more money into parking. Sadly that meant a defeat for the motion by one vote.
Why were the Tories anti?
As usual there was no real logic to there argument. Firstly they say they know it is a priority and already spending money, so the motion is a waste of time. Then they argue that a recent survey showed it was only 8th on residents concerns so we should not be spending on it.
The only other thing in full Council was a question about to Malls. There is an ongoing dispute between the contractors and the Council. Whilst this is going on several small and local businesses appear not to be paid. Given the importance of cash flow to small enterprises, I thought the portfolio holder may feel the Council should be applying pressure so small business gets paid. The Portfolio holder didn't agree.
It was interesting that in my question I mentioned the 'Liberal Democrats as the party of small business' - he didn't dispute it and his answer kind of re-enforced it.