Parking spaces: money could have been better spent

Work in Scotland Road
Work in Scotland Road

I have come across the excellent letter from Mrs Prendergast, of Barrowford, condemning Pendle and Lancashire Councils’ decision to re-open the pedestrianised part of Scotland Road, Nelson.

I couldn’t agree more. The money is a total waste as I said it would be in a letter you published earlier in the year.

In my letter, which was critical of much of the spending of the town council, I mentioned the town council had voted to support but not to fund this absurd project.

Who benefits most from these new car parking spaces? An obvious answer is the Mayan Partnership, which is developing the former Burtons building opposite. As there is no other parking for this building, the new spaces will come in very handy for occupiers of the new flats if they have cars. Who controls the Mayan Partnership? Nelson councillor Nadeem Younis. I make no criticism of Coun. Younis but if the idea of these parking spaces was in the air why did the council not make a Section 106 agreement a condition of the planning permission? (A Section 106 agreement is a mechanism used to ensure that when work is done for or made necessary by a development some or all of the cost is met by the developer and not the public purse).

Personally, I don’t like the new layout and would much have preferred this last piece of pedestrianisation was kept. When I asked some Nelson shoppers one morning what they thought, none welcomed it. One of the comments I received was that the money would have been better spent clearing up the huge number of fag ends littering the street.

This brings me to an interesting point: how was the decision taken? The answer, I think, is that the more remote the decision, the less likely it is to be a wise use of public money. In this case Pendle Council would not have spent the money had it come out of Pendle’s own resources. It was wholly funded by the county council, which made a decision to create a fund from which “improvements” to Lancashire’s town centres would be carried out by the various borough councils. Pendle’s regeneration officers (who had to do something to justify their own existence) then came up with this scheme rather than let the money be spent by some other council; and councillors let it happen because it wasn’t coming out of their own budget - never mind it was the same council taxpayers whose money was being misused.

A similar situation arises in the case of the EU. Proponents of our continued membership of the EU sometimes point out that of the billions of pounds paid over by Britain to the EU every year, a large part comes back - so it does but with strings attached, which mean it is spent as wastefully as the money spent on the Scotland Road parking spaces.

You have only to walk around Nelson to see what I mean. The derelict, former bus station and the Islamic Centre at the junction of Cross Street and Carr Road both bear plaques proudly declaring that these are projects part-funded by the European Community’s Regional Development Fund.

I will happily join Mrs Prendergast in bailing out the Leeds and Liverpool Canal with an egg cup if anyone can tell me how either of these did anything to improve the local economy.

Coun. John Rowe

BNP, Marsden Ward