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War of words over car parking in Worcester
A WAR of words has broken out between two Worcester councillors - with the Tories accusing a Labour rival of "hypocrisy".
Councillor Chris Mitchell says a recent review into how to revitalise the city centre flagged up further evidence car parking charges should not go up.
The investigation, led by Labour backbench Councillor Simon Cronin, came up with 19 different recommendations for the city's leadership, one of which was cheaper parking prices to tie in with later trading hours.
Last month Cllr Cronin voted for parking charges to increase in Worcester, with some tarrifs rising in April.
The move to increase rates was vociferously opposed by the Federation of Small Businesses, which said it would harm traders.
Cllr Mitchell, from Worcester Conservatives, said: "By ignoring our attempt to freeze car parking charges Simon actually voted against what he recommended in his review.
"Parking charges are a very emotive issue in the city, we believed they should have been frozen and the FSB said 'we really need this to happen'.
"So the fact he voted like that smacks of hypocrisy.
"So many people in politics make decisions and think they won't be linked to other decisions made by them, well there's a clear link I've found here."
Cllr Cronin said his review recommended reducing parking charges on certain occasions, to support potential later trading hours, rather than call for a blanket permanent cut all year round.
He said: "I'm not particularly surprised he's misunderstood this.
"The recommendation is carefully worded enough to invite the cabinet to look at lower parking charges as a favourable backdrop to promoting twilight trading.
"Car parking charges has been rumbling alongside this review and I've not shied away from it.
"But the prices across the board were not the business of this particular project."
From April the current £1 blanket rate after 7pm will be axed, as well as the 40p for half-an-hour price at selected sites.
Some other charges for long-stay car parks are also going up, with the Labour-led cabinet saying there was no evidence the cheaper rates helped increase trade.
The city centre review is currently being considered by the cabinet, and centres on regular evening shopping nights in Worcester, alongside a big marketing push and lower parking rates.
At the moment shops only open late in Worcester on selected Thursdays in the run-up to Christmas.
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