It’s market farces!
Fenland Council has again put off studying proposals for Wisbech Market Place. Last November, Wisbech Councillor Simon King, chairman of the overview and scrutiny panel, and his deputy, Councillor Michael Humphrey, withdrew a report on the future use of t
Fenland Council has again put off studying proposals for Wisbech Market Place. Last November, Wisbech Councillor Simon King, chairman of the overview and scrutiny panel, and his deputy, Councillor Michael Humphrey, withdrew a report on the future use of the market place because "the item had been included on the agenda without their prior knowledge". Councillors then agreed to defer the matter to yesterday's meeting, but again it was inexplicably withdrawn for a further month.
Meanwhile, as TOM JACKSON reports, there is one councillor who fears it may take something tragic before anything is done about parking in the Market Place.
"I WOULD hate to think that someone is killed or badly injured before something is done," says Councillor Roger Green.
As a Fenland councillor and leader of Wisbech Town Council, he is at the forefront of those pushing for an early resolution to this parking issue.
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He illustrated the difficulties faced by motorists and pedestrians as we chatted during a walking tour of the town on Friday.
The town centre is a pedestrian area and, therefore, vehicles should not park on the market square. The only spaces, at the Rose and Crown end of the square, are designated for disabled drivers.
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But Cllr Green said people ignored the restrictions because no-one was on hand to enforce them.
"Once we had three traffic wardens in Wisbech," he said. "We ended up with one, and when she retired about six years ago the decision was made to not replace her.
"The consequence is that they park indiscriminately, anywhere and everywhere.
"I asked a police representative at a meeting about this and I was told the resources are such that they can only allocate one hour a week to policing the market place.
"There has never been strict enforcement but they say they cannot employ a traffic warden because whatever you pay in fines goes to the Government.
"Everything you get back from fines should be ring-fenced to pay for the warden. That way it would be easily financed.
"You need to police the market place on a regular basis, whichever scheme you implement."
Cllr Green said that whatever decision is finally taken on Wisbech's town centre traffic, police must be more proactive.
"The public will feel safer and more confident and it would be a deterrent for motorists to not park on the market place," he said.
Cllr Green tried to bring an end to this problem by calling a public meeting when he was mayor in 2001. It was attended by North-East Cambridgeshire MP Malcolm Moss, as well as representatives from Fenland Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Wisbech Chamber of Commerce.
"Nothing has happened since," he said. "The people of Wisbech are fed up with the parking chaos that exists in the market area and we want it sorted out."
"I have never come out in favour of total pedestrianisation or parking. All I have said is sort it out one way or another.
"But I would suggest that Castle Square, outside Gibbs' shoe shop in Church Terrace, and Bridge Street could all be for disabled parking.
"And if you're going to allow traffic back it has got to be regulated and you have got to enforce street parking."
Cllr Green accused the district council and the county council of blaming each other for the delay.
"The roads are owned by the county council and the market place is owned by Fenland, and the two can't seem to get together to sort it out," he said.
"The overview and scrutiny committee should be discussing this between December and January. But now it has been put off until at least February."
He said the town council had been led to believe at its meeting, on January 8, that the district council wanted to transfer the £100,000 earmarked for the market place to go towards planned improvements at Freedom Bridge roundabout.
"They asked for our approval and we said no," said Cllr Green. "We want the market place sorted out.