RE: Cancel Weymouth Free Parking at Christmas and Provide Free Buses

Weymouth Town Council passed a motion last week to investigate this. The argument was an environmental one, how do we get people out of cars and into public transport, producing less Carbon Dioxide from travel.

A few councillors voted against, including myself, my fellow Conservatives and a small number of other members. All of the Lib Dems and Greens voted in favour.

I believe in man made climate change, I voted for a Climate Emergency and believe that we should do something about our carbon footprint but this is not a sensible proposal.

Parking is more expensive in Weymouth than it is in Dorchester. Dorset Council is planning to standardise parking across the County but at the moment it is cheaper to park in Dorchester. For this year, at least, Dorset has agreed to carry on Weymouth's scheme of free parking at Christmas to encourage shoppers.

This proposal is to charge for that parking. This changes the decision for Christmas shoppers. Instead of going to free Weymouth some may go to Dorchester where parking is cheaper. We have made it more attractive for some shoppers to shop outside our town rather than come here. No surprise if shop turnover falls. And I don't believe there will be more shoppers coming on the bus. Many Weymouth shoppers can't shop by bus, they don't have a regular enough bus.

So our shops will suffer, but this proposal is also a politically foolish. Weymouth Council has said that we do not want free parking at Christmas. Do not be surprised, when Dorset's parking plan is published, if they listen to your council's request and take away the free parking. How can I and my fellow Conservatives argue we should keep it when the council say they don't want it?

Finally, and most frustratingly, it seems likely to me that cancelling free parking will increase our carbon production not reduce it. Shoppers driving to Dorchester with its cheaper parking, will burn more fossil fuel not less.

In my opinion, this proposal will increase carbon dioxide production, reduce shopping in Weymouth shops and permanently end free Christmas parking in town. Is this what you wanted your council voting for?

And the fact that the council has passed this motion has caused the damage with Dorset council even if the study proves it to be a bad idea.

One councillor argued we should be signalling virtuous behaviour, perhaps true, but this isn't virtuous behaviour, it is ill considered political grandstanding damaging to both our environment and Weymouth.

Cllr Tony Ferrari

Weymouth Town Councillor

To read the original report click here