Victory! Parking charges will NOT be brought in at city beauty spots and gym centre saved

Campaigners have won their fights against controversial plans to close a gymnastics centre and introduce new parking charges.

Thousands of people signed petitions against the proposals which were included in Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s original budget for 2018/19.

Residents said the mooted charges at Westport Lake and Central Forest Park would cause parking problems in nearby streets and discourage people from using the facilities.

And families claimed that closing Stoke-on-Trent Gymnastics Centre in Burslem and moving classes across the city to Fenton Manor would mean many children would no longer be able to attend.

The parking charges proposal, which was expected to raise £105,000, has now been axed in response to the consultation.

Closing the gymnastics centre was due to save £93,000. But this saving will now be achieved through £43,000 of cuts to management and £50,000 of increased income from classes.

Proposals to cut spending on homelessness services and HIV care and support have also been revised.

Council leaders say the changes show that the authority is listening to the public.

Proposals to implement pay and display at a car park on one of the city’s busiest parks have been branded ‘ridiculous’.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has proposed to install pay and display at the Central Forest Park car park located just off Hanley Road.
The car park is currently free to use and park users are ‘worried’ about the impact that a potential pay and display situation would have.
David Rodger started the petition against parking charges at Central Forest Park

Council leader Dave Conway said: “The environment that local government is operating in is constantly changing and setting a budget in these challenging times is tough. By law we have to set a balanced budget. At the same time our funding is reducing every year and we are experiencing more demand than ever before.

“This inevitably means that we have to look at everything we do and consider if there are other ways we can deliver services. That is why consultation is so important. We want to listen to what people have to say and we especially appreciated alternative proposals being put forward.

“Yes, sometimes it means difficult conversations but revising our proposals also shows that we will listen to feedback from our residents and respond to key concerns wherever we can.

“It is only by working together that we can deliver against the huge financial challenge that we, and others up and down the country, are being faced with. My thanks go to all residents and community groups who have got involved and told us what they think.”

More than 1,000 had signed a petition against the proposals for parking charges at Central Forest Park.

Lead petitioner David Rodger, aged 73, from Birches Head, said: “I couldn’t be more pleased that the council has dropped these plans, and there will be lots of people who will be over the moon.

Central Forest Park
Central Forest Park

“I remember the park when it was a colliery and to see it transformed was marvellous. I was determined to fight the council trying to make money out of it. It’s a public open space.”

The proposal to close the gymnastics centre was the most controversial in the whole budget, with around 8,000 people calling for the facility to be saved.

Jonathan Lancett, whose eight-year-old daughter, Niamh, attends the centre, welcomed the decision to keep the centre open.

The 35-year-old, of Stanfield, said: “I’m really pleased. My daughter is due to enter her first competition on Mothers’ Day, and there’s no way she would have been able to do that without the gymnastics centre being there.

“I’m glad the council has listened to the public on this. It’s such an important facility for sport and physical activity in the north of the city.”

Stoke-on-Trent Gymnastics Centre, in Burslem
Stoke-on-Trent Gymnastics Centre, in Burslem

Proposed cuts to homelessness services, expected to save £316,000 next year, rising to £1 million in 2019/20, have also been amended following the consultation.

The council still expects to make the same level of savings, but this will be achieved through ‘utilisation of additional Government funding’ and working with service providers to find alternative sources of funding.

A proposal to cease funding of HIV care and support services, due to reduced demand, prompted concerns that this would affect the only service provider in the city supporting people with the infection.

The £124,000 of funding will now be cut by 50 per cent next year – to ‘ensure a smooth transition’ – before being axed altogether in 2019/20.

The revised budget still includes £10.2 million of savings, against a backdrop of increased demand for services and Government funding cuts of £7.4 million.

Council tax will also go up by four per cent – including a three per cent social care precept – which will equate to an extra £32.51 on a Band A property’s annual bill.

Cabinet members are expected to back the revised budget at their meeting next Tuesday, with the final proposals going to full council on February 22.

Please follow and like us:
5987

Leave a Reply

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you love Parked Like A Dick? Then follow us and share the love!