Whistle-blower claims councillors exploit free parking as ‘self-regulation’ policy confirmed

PUBLISHED: 18:45 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:54 01 February 2018

Campus East Lower car park

Campus East Lower car park

Archant

A whistle-blower has claimed that there is a “culture” among Welwyn Hatfield councillors of parking for free while not on council business.

The source, who wished to remain unnamed, told the WHT that she knows of members who take advantage of free parking they have in WGC town centre – which is only meant to be used while on council business.

WHC’s members and staff have free parking at the Hunters Bridge, Campus West and Campus East Lower sites, but the source claimed she has been present when it has been used recreationally.

“They have said ‘we do not have to pay if we use my car’, in other words it is the culture,” she told the WHT. “It was like ‘we all do it, it’s normal’, not like ‘do not tell anyone’.

“My sense is it’s a cultural norm. How do we know when they are on council business? Their council reg is what gives them exemption, so we have no idea if they are on council business or not.”

A borough council spokeswoman confirmed it currently does not monitor whether members are on council business when they park.

The whistle-blower declined to name the councillors and said she had not voiced her concerns to them, but claimed she contacted the WHT because the current system is exposed to exploitation.

She continued: “It’s the idea that it’s one of the perks [of being a councillor], that’s how it has been communicated to me.

“It’s not greatly paid, I do not want them penalised, but I thought why should we be subsidising them because we all have to pay for parking locally.”

Council leader John Dean said he was unaware of any councillors abusing the system, but condemned anyone that does and encouraged people who are aware of it happening to report the number plates to WHC.

“They shouldn’t be doing that, they should only park in the car park with no charge when actually in the council offices,” he said.

“I think we made that quite clear. But as far as enforcing it that would mean we have to police every member of staff and I’m not in favour of doing that.”

He added: “I think we have to leave that down to their own honesty and discretion, I wouldn’t be in favour of policing people.”

Labour leader, councillor Kieran Thorpe, said: “I’m not aware of a culture of councillors doing this.

“Councillors by nature of the work they do are rarely ‘off duty’ and it does not concern me that they or other council employees are able to park in council car parks for free.”

A WHC spokeswoman said: “Members can use our car parks when on council-related business, and this might be outside of office hours. This is self-regulated, and we are not aware of councillors parking inappropriately.”

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