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Letter: Financial Truths That Face Down Political Misinformation

Published on: 18 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 21 Feb, 2021

From: John Redpath

GBC lead member for Economy, and R4GV ward councillor for Holy Trinity

The present Executive at GBC have been the target of some pre-county council election flak on Twitter and Facebook lately from councillors who appear to be deliberately misleading residents, and this misinformation needs to be corrected.

That national parties have to engage in this kind of electioneering in the hope of political benefit is very sad.

Parking Charges

To clarify: the £3 charge mentioned is for a three-hour stay, only £1 an hour, far less than many neighbouring councils. There are other car parks around the town still available at the old minimum charge of £1.50 per hour. And, of course, there’s plenty of on-street parking for that quick shop or collection.

Many people have questioned why the council doesn’t offer free parking to benefit retail and hospitality. The answer is simple, and never has been hidden. We need this revenue to help subsidise the fantastic range of services the council offers.

Guildford Borough Council provides services and facilities that many comparable boroughs don’t, because they are discretionary. Many of these we offer to help make Guildford the great place it is to live and work, with parks and leisure facilities galore.

Citizens Advice
Another recent complaint from the national political party bloggers expressed their concern about the council having to cut the amount we give to Citizens Advice each year. This was not done lightly and the cut was small, less than 4% of our contribution in 2020.

This year, we will spend £300,000 on Citizens Advice funding. We are aware the demand for this service may well increase over the next year or so, but the council is looking at a huge budget deficit going forward and we have to continue to make some very tough decisions.

What do others think?

As an indication, if town centre visitor numbers returned close to their pre-pandemic levels, and we were to increase the parking charges by say, 10p per hour for each of the next three years (30p change in total by year three) then it’s likely the council’s budget would balance and we could continue to offer residents all the services they have become used to.

I welcome feedback on the idea of a small parking charge increase to maintain council services at the present level. I realise there may be a few who think GBC are taking advantage to profit, but I can assure you this is not true.

There’s no huge surplus at the end of the financial year (if only) and we have a statutory responsibility to balance the books.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Financial Truths That Face Down Political Misinformation

  1. H Trevor Jones Reply

    February 19, 2021 at 9:39 am

    Agreed (but I don’t drive so maybe am biased). Guildford is well-served by public transport and has Park & Ride for those not living on a bus or train line.

  2. RWL Davies Reply

    February 19, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    It’s a “big if” for many reasons, but if town centre car-borne visitor numbers return to close to pre-pandemic levels, then a small increase in parking charges would be sensible.

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