Welwyn unites against car parking charges

A BACKLASH against controversial plans to introduce charges into Welwyn car parks has united villagers like never before, according to the chairman of the Parish Council.

Cllr Peter Neville said he could not recall another occasion when so many residents had joined forces, as they have done over Welwyn Hatfield Council and partners C-P Plus’ plans to introduce charges at the High Street and Lockleys Drive car parks.

Since the Welwyn Hatfield Times broke the news that the borough council was planning on charging for parking in Welwyn, villagers and businesses have rallied against the proposals, writing letters of opposition and signing a petition against the move.

And Cllr Neville, who has lived in Digswell since 1978, said: “I’ve never known them as united as this.

“The last two crises I can remember where Welwyn joined together were the plans to build 600 houses in Danesbury, and the widening of the A1(M). But this perhaps tops both of them.

“They [the residents] have become one mind on this.”

The borough council’s consultation on the scheme closes next Friday, September 23.

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Welwyn Parish Council had asked for a moratorium on the consultation in order to carry out its own work into Welwyn’s parking situation.

But that was immediately dismissed out of hand by Welwyn Hatfield Council.

“They turned it down flat,” Cllr Neville said.

“They said they were happy that they were following the consultation as they were meant to. They were contented that the process is legal and adequate.

“I don’t doubt the legality, but from a sense of fair play I think it is being pushed through far too fast.”

A Welwyn Hatfield Council spokeswoman said: “After considering it [the moratorium], we could see no reason for a postponement, as the intent to charge for parking had been clear since the council’s budget proposals were agreed in February.”

But Cllr Neville hit back, saying: “The fact that this came out of a finance document gives the lie that it is to aid businesses of Welwyn. The papers it appeared in were to help the council’s finances, not the village’s. It is not some high-minded aim to improve Welwyn.”