Richard Priest responds to accusation of breaking pre-election parking promise

In follow-up to yesterday’s ‘What’s happened to Richard Priest’s pre-election promise on parking?’ article, here’s the elongated response OnTheWight received from him today

Richard Priest
Below is the reply – presented in full – that Richard Priest provided to the question OnTheWight posed,

“Before the election, why did you promise to your electorate that you’d “Promote high streets not penalise motorists”, but now you’re in power, you’re proposing jacking up parking charges across the Island – including Shanklin – and removing most, if not all, of the free parking in shopping areas?”

It ranks as the longest reply we ever had to a question – quick or otherwise. We also suggested that he hadn’t answered the question, so we asked it more directly, “Why did you break your pre-election promise not penalise motorists?” – and await his reply – Ed


Thanks for your email and apologies for slight delay in reply – as you may be aware I am still recovering (physically and an inbox full of emails!) from completing the non-stop round the Island walk at the weekend, part of the Walking Festival Promotion – and part of a commitment I made to take part in this, the Randonnee and Walk the Wight: all events that promote the Island.

Thanks also for highlighting the leaflet that Jon Gilbey and I produced last year, when we were standing for election as Town and County Councillors – and you are right to indicate that at that time we were not fully aware of the £28million challenge facing the Island, let alone the Ministerial Directive on Education and Safeguarding, the need to spend £2.5million extra on Children services, not to mention the on-going costs associated with Cowes Enterprise College: it would be interesting to see how these challenges were communicated, at the time, by those that were part of the previous administration,

When we talked, prior to last years’ elections, I reflected that Jon and I have always campaigned for Shanklin Residents to be treated equally with other areas of the Island (many Shanklin Residents had asked us why Car Parks, such as in Carisbrooke, were free and Car Parks in other Towns were not – similarly why Shanklin, and other seaside town beach hut owners paid for parking, but Appley and Puckpool owners did not): Jon and I both wanted clarity on these apparent inconsistencies, and you are right to highlight that the current consultation, which is continuing until June 6th, provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to contribute to this process – Jon and I, as well as our colleagues in the New Administration, would encourage all Islanders to take part.

I am sure that you will appreciate, from issues such as the Music Hub, Biomass Plant, Youth Services, Sale of IW Council Assets, School Crossing Patrols and the Floating Bridge, the New Administration really does take the views of Island Residents seriously, and these views inform the debate and the decision making process – this is not to say that, given the serious financial situation that we are in, difficult decisions will not have to be made, such decisions are not taken lightly but are one’s, such as with Cowes Enterprise College, that need to be addressed.

In addition to working closer with our Island Communities to improve decision making, this Administration has also removed delegated decision making, increased the effectiveness and independence of Scrutiny, developed a Town and Parish Protocol, removed the constraints of question time at Council meetings, held a series of public engagement meetings throughout last Autumn: these and other measures reflecting a significant shift in the culture of this local authority.

In highlighting the ‘Promoting High Streets’ leaflet, you are right to ask what this actually means, and in summary some of the actions that Jon and I, with the new administration (and crediting Government and the previous administration where appropriate) have supported include:

– Introducing small business rate relief
– Continuing with charity business rate exemptions (Jon and I campaigned for this as Town Councillors)
– Introducing £295 parking permit initiative
– Continued investment in Visit Wight with increasing visitor numbers to Island Towns and High Streets
– Small Business Saturday and Introducing the free parking day at Christmas
– Apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship Schemes
– Seeking Assisted Area Status for Towns and Villages on the Island
– Supporting Blue Flag Applications
– Designated Public Place Orders
– Opening the first Tourist information Point in Shanklin, and rolling these out across the Island

NB As Town Councillors we have supported proposed coach parking improvements in the Old Village, the 150th Anniversary of Railway in Shanklin, Green Towns Initiative, Carnival/Regatta/Fun Day, and many other Shanklin initiatives.

Hopefully, the above gives a fair reflection of the steps we have taken to promote Shanklin, and other High Streets on the Island, and that, without the financial constraints that we inherited and that face us now, we would have been in a better position to do more.

We equally recognise, following a series of meetings across the Island, that Islanders want to be a part of shaping an all island parking strategy, and we have been asked why this was not taken forward by the previous administration – and residents have equally been supportive of not proposing the outsourcing of provision because they know that this would result in significantly greater charging and no benefits in kind.

Thanks again for your email, and apologies if I have included actions that you have already included in your article for balance, and can I (with Jon and my colleagues in the Administration) continue to encourage all Islanders to contribute to the consultation.

Best regards

Richard Priest

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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12 Comments on "Richard Priest responds to accusation of breaking pre-election parking promise"

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Guy Eades
Rescuing the High Streets of the IoW and small businesses is not going to be achieved by raising parking fees , tightening limits on time limited free parking, and a car parking permit set at £295 which is unaffordable to most people ( the previous one a few years ago was about £75) and whilst supermarkets provide free parking. The reasoning for the rise in charges seems… Read more »
steve s

I think you’ll find that the previous parking permit was £500.

political balls

Rather than correcting people, why dont you tell us what you will be doing.

There have at various times been parking permits of varying amounts, usually less before an election.

Will you be introducing a permit? How much will it cost?

You see, we’re all much more interested in what WILL happen than what has happened.

steve s

We’ve already introduced it. £295. I hope this helps.

C Larity

… plus £125 if you want to use it to park overnight in a car park near your house.

That’s £415. A welcome £85 a year saving, but not the £210 saving it first appears.

#transparency

Sue C

I get it that Mr Priest is giving himself a big pat on the back, but what was his answer to the actual question, I got a bit lost?!

Steve the YAK

With that long-winded answer, it no wonder he supports the massive bowling alley planned for Shanklin. It’s going to be named in his honour, and called – The Hyperbole.

tryme
Great reply from Cllr Priest, and not a word too long. Better to get the detail and context in there, along with the balance he mentions, than to be pushed into a brief and inadequate response. There may be plenty of comments here, and he does best to anticipate as much as he can, first off. He explains well why the Indies by no means knew the… Read more »
David Williams.

: Unbelievable.

ragafeeling

what a load of drivel – a long winded reply that ultimately has been played like a get out of jail free card – anyone with a bit of common sense can see that costs have been spiralling for years in an uncontrolled manner right theway across any Local Governemnt.

smiffy
Why don’t we all go back to basics here. What is the true cost of the Island parking operation and how much is the financial gain or loss. All costs normally ignored in these matters( offices, phones,vehicles ,insurance, pensionsetc.,etc.)need to be included. If no financial benefit —-free parking Islandwide for 1 year trial.Businesses would then maybe make some money–at least in the holiday season, Smiffy
ragafeeling
Smiffy you will never ever know there is a black art in county hall of covering up the truth as its not in any civil servants interest to let this information into the public domain – possibly a handful of councillors know but again they are self serving and so its not in their interest either but I would wager that a lot of cost is taken… Read more »