Market Rasen’s mayor John Matthews has slammed West Lindsey District Council for introducing parking charges in the town and accused the authority of a ‘grave error of judgement’.
In a stinging attack, councillor Matthews said the council’s Prosperous Communities Committee had ignored the town’s residents and business owners.
He claimed the decision to implement charges was an ‘atrocity’ and would ‘severely damage’ the prosperity of the town.
Coun Matthews told the Mail: “The councillors of West Lindsey are a democratically elected body of men and women who volunteer their time to supposedly best represent the towns and parishes within their district.
“On the topic of enforcing charges for car parking in Market Rasen, I believe that the Prosperous Community Committee have made a grave error of judgement.
Coun Matthews added ‘if these councillors believe in the true democratic process they should listen to their electorate’.
He said: “The petition duly served may not hold the power of a referendum but the view of the 2,600-plus people who signed that petition is that the people of Market Rasen - residents and businesses - are against pay-to-park.
“If the Prosperous Communities Committee had lived up to its name and objective, they would never have sanctioned this atrocity because it will severely damage the prosperity of Market Rasen. But, none of the members live here.”
Rasen businessman Adrian Campbell, who organised the petition against the charges, also condemned WLDC’s decision.
He said: “So, the Prosperous Communities Committee has decided to start charging for car parks in Market Rasen despite the full council agreeing that ‘further research needed to be undertaken’. Why?”
Mr Campbell questioned the report councillors based their decision on, adding: “There was no mention of the risk that businesses could suffer despite admitting that footfall will drop, only the risk that the £50,000 estimated profit from charges would have to be found from somewhere else.
“There was no reference at all to the damage to businesses at Horncastle, Spilsby, Alford when charges were introduced three years ago and now removed with ELDC reporting it was a mistake.
“And there was no mention that statistics show Market Rasen is declining when WLDC policy is to ‘maintain and enhance’ the town; just an assertion that the statistics are wrong.”
Mr Campbell added: “Market Rasen would be better served by being in East Lindsey District Council.”
Several residents and workers contacted the Rasen Mail to complain about he charges.
Many people said they would park in residential streets - rather than dig into their own pockets.
Joy Savage said: “I work in Rasen and I only get the (national) minimum wage.
“Finding another £10-a-week just to pay to park will be difficult.
“I know people who just park in side streets and I’ll probably do the same.”
Shop worker Sarah Dunham said she would also park elsewhere.
She said:”Free parking brings in a lot of customers.
“You can park in Louth for free.
“I’d probably come on the bus but they are unreliable and cost too much.”