Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Council dammed if they do, and damned if they don’t

WEYMOUTH and Portland’s sharp rise in car parking charges has come as no surprise.

Cutting charges was a nice idea but it has proved impossible to continue with the initiative because of the impact on council revenues.

So charges have had to rise, to the confusion of those visiting the borough, many of whom have been heard swearing blind that charges were lower the last time they were here.

Of course they’re right. Charges were lower the last time they were here, but a few blanched faces in various council committees at some pretty grim car park revenue figures was all it took to increase charges.

To be fair, the council is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

Put up parking charges and there will be outrage at the way visitors are deterred by the high cost of parking in Weymouth and Portland.

But keep charges low and the authority finds itself with a big gap in revenue which has to be plugged in some way, often at the expense of cuts in other services which creates a different sort of public outrage that the council is cutting vital services.

It’s a tricky balancing act not least because Britannia Parking, which operates the town’s multi-storey car park, has decided against following the council’s lead and will be keeping its prices at their current level.

If this site’s all weather parking was popular before then it will be doubly popular now that it is cheaper to park there than in council car parks.

That will make revenue figures collated ahead of 2016-2017 council budget meetings even more interesting reading. 

Could we then see an even higher hike because the expected revenue from the current increase hasn’t materialised?

Politicians in denial

NATIONAL polls show the people of Weymouth and Portland are just like every other town in the country. They are fed up with politics!

Research has shown that there is widespread apathy about the forthcoming election and that has surprised and shocked the politicians so much that a drive has been launched to encourage people to be more enthusiastic about polling day on May 7th.

Quite why people’s disillusionment with government should be such a shock to those actually in government is beyond me.

After all, hard working people who have prudently saved all their lives are being rewarded by getting a good rate of interest on their savings, aren’t they?

Young people starting out on life’s highway can easily find a job or start buying their first home, can’t they?

And surely the NHS has never been in better shape, the national debt never so low and public optimism never higher?

Well the answer to all these questions is ‘Yes’... if you are a politician in government.

Sadly a new project by Specsavers only had funding for 650 pairs of rose-tinted spectacles, just enough to give one to every MP at Westminster.

The rest of us have to make do with seeing life how it really is and that’s enough to make anyone fed up with what has happened to this country.

A good summer in the offing?

COULD Weymouth and Portland be on the brink of a bumper summer season?

We won’t really know for sure until September but the early signs are very promising with a particularly good Easter.

The ‘No vacancies’ signs were out, beach traders told me that business had been very good and, on some days, almost impossible to keep pace with while most town centre traders were generally happy with what their tills were taking.

There can be no doubt that all this was due to getting mostly decent weather over this crucial early trading period.

But no-one will be tossing their cap in the air yet because Weymouth knows all too well that early sunshine can be followed by the disaster of a miserable summer.

Hopefully that won’t happen this season, as recent years have shown above average temperatures and there is nothing yet to show this trend won’t continue, so my umbrella is still tucked firmly away at the back of a cupboard... but I know where it is.

Ne’er-do-wells give bad impression

WEYMOUTH’S tucked away little areas are proving a haven for dodgy behaviour.

Teenage schoolchildren gathering for a crafty smoke in an Asda back street doorway, drunks gathering to swill cans in small parking areas behind the seafront and street people set up shop on out of the way bench areas near the harbour and Radipole Lake, it is all going on.

Such incidents are hardly likely to be a top priority for police, but they might be for the council’s tourism machine since these images are not the sort they want displayed as the vital summer season gathers pace and holidaymakers start to flood into town.

If the authorities want to do anything about these problems then the time to do so is now.

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