No way, we won't pay!
ANGRY West Fifers have told Fife Council where they can park plans to introduce car-parking charges at train stations and park and ride facilities.
Commuters have slated the Labour council's proposals to implement charges of £1.60 or £2.40 for parking at Inverkeithing, Dunfermline Town, Dunfermline Queen Margaret, Dalgety Bay and Rosyth train stations, and Ferrytoll Park and Ride.
The controversial charges are also planned for Halbeath park and choose when it's completed, as well as Kirkcaldy and Leuchars stations.
Council officers argued that the scheme was necessary "to manage demand" and could potentially generate revenue of £1.4million once fully operational.
However, the plans have provoked a furious public backlash. The Press' website has been inundated since we broke the story on Thursday and Fifers also launched a 'Campaign Against Unfair Parking Charges in Fife' on Facebook.
Protestors gathered at Inverkeithing station on Sunday to garner support and were also outside Fife House in Glenrothes before Tuesday's executive committee meeting, where the plans were due to be considered.
Officers had recommended agreement but the committee has now referred the matter to the environmental and transport policy advisory group and the finance and corporate services policy group.
Councillors agreed that the plans should be "given more consideration and be subject to a widespread consultation".
Council leader Alex Rowley told the Press, "This paper has been brought forward by transport professionals on the basis that current demand is greater than availability of places and that measures are therefore needed to manage that demand.
"It has become apparent from feedback that transport operators have not between consulted on this issue and that more detailed analysis of the usage of these facilities is required.
"This element of the paper will therefore be referred to the transport policy advisory group to carry out this work, consult with partners and users and take any evidence to allow them to bring forward a report on demand, usage, priorities and recommendations."
Mr Rowley said there was "financial consideration" in using charges, as the council has to plug a £70million gap in its budget over the next three years.
He said, "The finance policy advisory group will therefore be asked to examine the role of charging and concessions for parking as part of a wider review of charges.
"As this is a budget consideration it will not be considered for this year's budget but will be consulted on as part of the wider charging consultation being drafted for consideration for the 2014/15 budget where we are advised there is a £50million gap between the funds available from the Scottish Government and the current level of services being provided."
Inverkeithing SNP councillor Alice McGarry said the plans should be scrapped altogether.
She said, "It's an absolute outrage. I'm flabbergasted they could even consider this. You don't choose to go to work, it's a necessity.
"It's the middle of a recession, the rail companies have just put up their fares and now commuters have to pay up to £50 more a month for parking.
"The lack of vision is astounding. People will just vote with their feet and take their cars.
"This is not managing demand at all. It's ripping off the people of Fife and the council will be screwed trying to enforce it."
Her Rosyth colleague, Councillor Douglas Chapman, called it "just nuts" while Dunfermline Central's Neale Hanvey said, "to betray the people of Fife like this is frankly a scandal".
Tim Brett, leader of the council's Lib Dem group, was pleased at Labour's "embarrassing climb-down".
He added, "We completely share (Alex Rowley's) view that it has been incredibly badly managed by his administration - though we are concerned by his claims that this paper was the doing of officers, and not supported by his administration.
"If that is true, this is not the member-led administration that we were promised.
"We welcome the decision to pull this back to the policy advisory group and fully consult on the issue and we would encourage local communities to make their views well known when the time comes."
Scottish Lib Dem leader and former Dunfermline MP Willie Rennie also challenged the plans, saying, "Travel to and from work by train is costly enough without lumping an extra £40 a month in charges for parking at Dunfermline Town station or at Dalgety Bay station.
"At a time when rail fares are increasing and household budgets are being squeezed this really isn't a wise move."
He added, "These insensitive parking charge plans are out of kilter with opinion in Fife and should be rejected."
Councillor Dave Dempsey, chair of the council's Tory group, said the Conservatives were against it.
He added, "It's fundamentally unsound to say to people you should get out of your cars and into public transport, and we're going to penalise you for that.
"If you say to folk, we want you to use public transport, then you don't try to hit them when they do what you want."
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Sep 14, 12:52
Come on Leishman where r u on this?
Congrats to protesters...this preposterous plan must not be allowed to happen!...It is quite simple...support Dunfermline..yeah ====.take the council tax and then think up a scheme.to waste the money...remedy is in our hands..get rid of them!!!
Recommend? Yes 29 No 4
Sep 14, 13:15
Sep 14, 13:23
I am confused. How will introducing charges magically make a percentage of commuters disappear? We are all being asked not to use our cars and use public transport instead. So, the brain dead numpties in Fife council decide to 'get in on a good thing' and make an already expensive public transport system even more expensive for users. It makes it worth while nowadays to shun public transport and go back to the good old fashioned car.
Recommend? Yes 29 No 2
Sep 14, 13:26
It's a tax on jobs, as simple as that. People doing their bit for their families and the economy, stabbed in the back. It's okay for councillors, who get designated parking slots, and Fife Council employees, who have what is probably the biggest private car park (and overflow) outside Fife House in Glenrothes, completely free of charge. In the real world, people pay through the nose for shoddy rail services and have to drive to railway stations because bus services are overpriced and infrequent.
Recommend? Yes 29 No 1
Sep 14, 14:20
To be fair, it doesn't matter whether Fife Council have a free car park or not.
Many employers provide parking, and Council employees who use public transport will also have to pay this charge.
Agree, the charge is not right and should be scrapped, but this point about employee parking just looks a bit like sour grapes.
Recommend? Yes 12 No 9
Sep 14, 15:51
Can i just remind the armchair warriors, it was Tory/Labour coalition councillors that proposed these charges not 'The cooncil' you know the ones that didn't get the majority vote but became unlikely bed fellows to keep the SNP out, you know the party that managed to get more votes.........but we'll not let the facts get in way of a good old rant from the usual suspects tho eh?
And, and......the same eejit councillors tried to blame it ON the SNP when it all went t*ts up, the SNP were actually opposed to these ridiculous charges and were gearing up to actively campaign againt them............
Recommend? Yes 14 No 4
Sep 14, 16:43
Well, if you voted Labour then very well done to you. In the door five minutes and already trying to pick our pockets. I'm sure we'll all find the £600 a year down the back of the settee!
What made it worse for me was that after this tax on working people was announced, that propaganda sheet "Fife Life" or whatever it's called came through the door, with a four page special on HOW TO CLAIM BENEFITS. No joke.
Council wants to save money? How about scrap the Fife Life. Stop traffic calming everywhere and ruining everybody's car. Cut down on Council expenses and freebies. Abolish this fourth bin nonsense.
And why does freddy boswall get over £28,000 a year for being a figure head provost? That's over £44,000 a year (including his councillor salary) out of our pockets for what exactly?
I'm just relieved that the SNP have frozen the council tax. I have no doubt Labour would have happily put that up by £300 a year if they could get away with it.
Recommend? Yes 28 No 3
Sep 14, 18:28
This was obviously a ridiculous idea and totally unfair to commuters who are the people who work and then pay taxes to keep councillors like Rowley in a job. The Labour/Tory council have got a cheek by blaming the SNP Scottish Government for not giving them enough money. It is up to the Fife Council to manage their budgets.
Well done to the public for speaking out against these proposals, and well done to the SNP members and councillors who helped to make people aware of what these scheming lunatics were up to.
Build more parking spaces - easy answer to management of available spaces. Rowley - the Government might even give you money for that.
Recommend? Yes 13 No 1
Sep 15, 09:55
Other contributors are correct this is a tax on jobs!
Some individuals are running a fine line between income and expenditure; this for some may be the straw that breaks the camel's back!
Parking taxes are the main cause of the state of our high streets; shoppers are taxed out of town; out of town retail parks with free parking are the attraction; now they want to tax workers for going to their work!
Are they going to tax Royal Mail for their abuse of public parking at Dunfermline Town?
Why don't they reduce the amount of council waste and council expenses?
When normal workers attend their paid employment they have to provide or pay for their own lunches, councillors should do the same!
No more 'free lunches' for councillors funded by the working taxpayer!
Recommend? Yes 43 No 0
Sep 15, 12:14
Let's be clear. The last SNP led administration scrapped free lunches for Councillors and the free coffee and biscuits at committees and the free bacon rolls before full Council meetings and the fleet of cars used to transport Councilors to meetings. All of these perks were put in place by previous Labour administrations.
The SNP led administration resisted attempts of officials to impose parking charges for 5 years- Labour gave in after only 5 months. Labour and Tory Councillors along with so called independents have formed a coalition to exclude the SNP which has its largest representation ever on Fife Council.
The next time you have an opportunity to vote please remember that it does matter who you vote for, consider the alternatives and use your vote wisely.
Recommend? Yes 14 No 2
Sep 15, 13:03
Councillors only need to leave their ward to claim dining expenses; a 4 hour jolly is all it takes!
6.11 Subsistence expenses (accommodation and meals) can be claimed if Councillors have incurred extra and necessary expense. Councillors must have been away from their normal place of residence for more than 4 hours and the period must fall within certain times of day. Reimbursement for meals can only be made for meals purchased by a Councillor outwith their own electoral ward and outwith any premises of the Local Authority of which they are a member.
Breakfast allowance £8.00 - More than 4 hours away all before 11.00 am.
Lunch allowance £12.00 - More than 4 hours away which must include the period 12.00 to 2.00 pm.
Dinner allowance £25.00 - More than 4 hours away which must end after 7.00 pm.
24th May 2012
Agenda Item No. 4
Recommend? Yes 32 No 0
Sep 15, 19:03
Interesting stuff tradesman!
given the fact that many of these councillors are political placemen (of all colours) that won't live in their ward, ￡45 a day is outrageous! Wards are very small and how hard can it be to jump across/into town and make a claim. Just a reminder, sixteen grand is the wage for a more or less part-time role.
The point stands that these idiots can claim FROM OUR POCKETS in ONE DAY what they would have us payout in a month for the 'priviledge' of parking our cars to go to work.
I would hope that not only will all expenses be published in a public and transparent way, but also that in these hard times councillors will think twice of claiming meals which the workers they wish to fleece are unlikely to be paid for.
One last aside Rowley/Leishman; If you put this through, then i'll be paying TWO WEEKS WAGES over the year (over and on top of travel costs) for the joy of working to pay this tax.
Recommend? Yes 12 No 0
Sep 17, 09:21
Sep 17, 14:02
Whilst I agree with pretty much all of the above, looking at it from a Devils Advocate point of view, I can see the need potentially for upkeep etc to be paid for. What doesn't appear to make sense is the disproportionate charges to the perceived costs to do so.
It's clear this is not the reason they are being introduced and their own terminology proves this "small revenue stream".
The last, frankly bonkers point, is setting charges at the P&R. The entire purpose of a park and ride scheme is to encourage people to use public transport and leave their cars at home. The ludicorus point about it being in place to stop people taking advantage of free parking for long periods is laughable, I pass it every single day on the train and I have yet to see it even close to being full.
I'd have more respect for them if they just came out and said "we need the money and this is an obvious way to get it, if you want to use these services then you will pay for them".
Recommend? Yes 5 No 1
Sep 18, 21:52
Congratulations to all those who protested about this. It shows that people power can work when folk act. Yet while I can understand that different political parties will wish to claim credit for resisting this move either recently or longer ago, I do wonder how much control the politicians actually have over policy. They can tinker at the edges and will respond to public pressure, but fundamentally, there are limits to how far they can change the general policy drift. As folk have said above, officials in the council appear to have wanted to introduce these charges for some years and it is they who develop and implement the policy in the medium to long term - not the here today and gone tomorrow political types.
I observe in passing that a Mr Trond Haugen, who was a transportation official at the Council for many years, in his capacity as SESTRAN co-ordinator, was a few years ago involved in the controversial introduction of the 'kiss and fly' £1 tax on passenger drop offs now in place at Edinburgh Airport. I don't think anyone involved hid the aim of this policy, which was to discourage folk from dropping passengers off at the airport. And they all seemed to realise that the charge was not high enough to achieve this. Given that most people using the airport continue to get there by car , it appears to have succeeded only in generating a nice revenue stream for the airport operators. It looks like the same kind of thinking has been applied here.
As Digs10276 rightly says, it is barking mad to introduce a charge at the P&R. Petrol costs to commute to Edinburgh are less than a return train journey and the same as/less than the bus. Anything that adds yet further cost to taking public transport is self-evidently going to shift more folk back into their cars. Joined up thinking? I don't think so.
All that said, we are in an era of austerity and public money is scarce, as Mr Rowley may shortly find out. Ideally, there should be a (free to use) P&R built near Inverkeithing station rather than Halbeath - assuming the Council is actually serious about tackling congestion in the Forth Bridgehead area. Where is the money going to come from for that?
Recommend? Yes 7 No 0
Sep 20, 21:35
They are right, more measures are needed, many of those parking places at Dunfermline Town for example are used by local residents or the sorting office staff than by users of the train station. Perhaps a sign detailing an area for train users and others, with a ticket stubb displayed with date/times of purchase, in the windows of train users vehicles is a better idea than just random charging people to park there. Unless the parking charges were for all day parking. ie £1.60 per day... for spaces further away and £2.40 for spaces nearer to the station... But it is more likely the introduction is purely to manufacture money into the councils pocket by producing criminals out of innocent train users.
ie from the fines you'll get for not paying or for overstaying..
Recommend? Yes 1 No 0
Mar 15, 10:46
Obvious cash cow with the end result being quarter full facilities and still busy roads heading into Edinburgh as people "choose" to sit in the comfort of their own car with the radio / CD on rather than pay to park then pay again to travel on substandard services. No doubt they'll "consider" (aka will) charging for heading over the new bridge but if its less than public transport people will still drive - especially if they have a company car park that's free.
Charging at stations will mean conjested side streets with locals unable to park outside their own houses...till they introduce "paid permits" for those and fines for everyone else...more revenue for the council (rubbing hands and grinning.. Mwah, ha..ha!)
It's not rocket science - journey to Edinburgh must be cheaper that using your own car (and faster) or people won't use it..there, not difficult is it but that's not the point. The council want the money to fund those lunches noted above so guess who gets to pay....
Recommend? Yes 0 No 0