Today I spoke to a Formby resident who was more than a little angry about parking charges being proposed by Sefton Council for this particular car park. It presently has ‘Limited waiting’ for 2 hours between the hours of 09.00 – 18.0, Monday – Saturday.
Her concern was that charges may well have a detrimental effect on local business and shops, the very thing that continues to worry me about a parallel situation Maghull’s main shopping centre where charges have already been brought in (all be it by a private developer) and which I have posted about previously on this site.
But her concern was in many ways far more fundamental than that; she wanted to know why Formby’s 6 Borough Councillors or indeed Formby Parish Council were not making the decision about whether to impose parking charges or not. As someone who is committed to decentralising decision making to the lowest grass roots level possible I obviously agree with her. So let’s have a look at this particular situation.
Sefton has a Cabinet style of governance. Until Labour gained a majority that Cabinet was all-party and as far as I can recall there was usually a councillor from Formby on it. Now Labour has control all of the Cabinet members come from the Bootle Constituency! Does that mean that Formby’s 6 councillors don’t have a say? Well, yes and no, you see 3 of Formby’s 6 Borough Councillors are from the Labour Group on the Council so they can protest within the Labour Group about these charges. But will they be listened to? Your guess is as good as mine but bearing in mind that the Bootle Labour faction has far more councillors than the Sefton Central Labour faction then my feeling is that their voices, should they choose to use them, will go unheard.
The problem with Sefton these days is that all power has been centralised in Bootle and the Labour councillors from the Sefton Central area are simply there to toe the Bootle Labour line.