Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats have said Bedford’s new mayor’s failure to deliver on two election promises is “very disappointing” and “undermines residents’ trust in politics”.
In a recent interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Bedford’s Conservative mayor, Tom Wootton, explained why he is yet to deliver four hours free town centre parking and pause the Local Plan 2040.
The mayor said pausing the Local Plan before the promised government changes on housing targets would put residents at risk from developers’ “wacky schemes”.
Liberal Democrat Group leader and former portfolio holder for town centres and planning, councillor Henry Vann (De Parys), said: “It is very disappointing the mayor is now only just discovering what many of us have known for a while – including senior members of his own party who had voted for the Local Plan 2040.
“The Local Plan has been produced to protect residents and communities from being at the mercy of developers.
“Doing anything to jeopardise that would be devastating to our villages and parishes.
“I’m very glad the mayor has finally seen sense but it undermines residents’ trust in politics to be told one thing very clearly during the election by the Conservatives, only for the promise to be ditched within days of being elected,” he said.
Mayor Tom said he hopes to trial free parking in the run up to Christmas, but budget constraints have caused a delay.
Former portfolio holder for highways, transport and environment, councillor Charles Royden (Brickhill), said “The Conservative mayor has failed to fulfil yet another key election promise.
“We need trust in local politics and the mayor is undermining that trust by making all these promises in the run up to the election and then ditching them a few weeks later.
“If the mayor believes extending free parking is the answer, then why has he not done it yet,” he asked.
“He claimed at a previous Full Council meeting that the four hours free parking would “pay for itself”.
“Yet he is now incorrectly claiming that he is constrained by the previous mayor’s budget.
“The mayor could put forward a change to the budget that includes this policy whenever he likes and if he sticks to his word that it will pay for itself – why doesn’t he?
“Residents might also recall that the Conservatives unsuccessfully proposed cutting the Council Budget by £949,000 this year at the same time as promising the free parking, it seemed to add up for them before the election but surprise surprise it doesn’t add up after he is elected,” he said.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter