At a South Lakeland District Council Cabinet meeting today (Wednesday 30 August) Lib Dem Councillors ignored the will of the public and voted through plans to shut the popular New Road car park used by many residents and workers in Kendal.
Conservative Councillors have reacted with exasperation that calls to consult properly with the public about the future of the site and to delay the decision whilst further legal opinion was sought were rejected.
James Airey, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate at this year’s General Election and an opposition SLDC Councillor said: “Councillors failed to act back in January in response to one tragic death. Months after they should have started a proper and timely process of consultation with the public, they are now trying to rush through changes.”
Councillors heard from Legal Counsel, Tim leader QC, at the meeting. He confirmed that, in his opinion, whilst parking on the New Road site was unlawful, it was not illegal.
Councillor Airey continued: “It’s clear that the Council’s concerns regarding legal action are only a partial picture. Indeed, SLDC’s own legal expert today confirmed that it would be ‘tricky to prosecute’ people parking on the land.”
“It is a statutory requirement that Councillors make themselves fully aware of the legalities of action they wish to take. Whilst we accept that legal opinion offered may be offered as the truth and nothing but the truth – although we believe some aspects are debatable – we are not convinced that it is the whole truth.”
“Aside from an ill-judged presentation of the legalities, we have already been approached by residents, workers, businesses and community groups all concerned about the negative impact that these proposals will have. Residents have complained about insufficient notice and lack of provisions being put in place to alleviate the problems that will be faced. Many fear that they will be driven to closure or to move out of Kendal. We heard more voices of discontent from members of the public at the meeting today.”
Father Hugh Pollock, parish priest at Holy Trinity and St George’s Church on New Road, complained about the lack of information and lack of time to explore alternative arrangements. Sue Macdonald questioned what evidence the Council had that people wanted to sit in a park alongside the noise of fumes of cars on New Road. Nigel Tomlinson reflected on his discussions with local traders who were concerned that Kendal could disappear as a Market Town.
“Today we asked the Liberal Democrats not to take the decision, but that they should come forward with concrete proposals that will work for the public, including low income people who come and work in the town. Whilst agreeing to consider other legal concerns we have, they chose not to delay a decision until answers had been provided.”
“The public will judge for themselves why Liberal Democrat Councillors and South Lakeland District Council officers are choosing to rush through such actions at a time when many local people are still on holiday and unable to object.”
Members of the pubic and local businesses are invited to make their opinions known by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.