Green drive has brake on

A MOVE to bring forward a review of car parking charges in Huntingdonshire to favour greener vehicles is unlikely to succeed, The Hunts Post believes. Although the district council s new charges in June will reward drivers of low emission vehicles with a

A MOVE to bring forward a review of car parking charges in Huntingdonshire to favour greener vehicles is unlikely to succeed, The Hunts Post believes.

Although the district council's new charges in June will reward drivers of low emission vehicles with a 25 per cent discount on season tickets, there are no plans to extend the concession.

The council's service support scrutiny panel has called in a cabinet decision on a new car parking strategy due to come into effect in June. When it debates the issue this evening (Wednesday), the panel is expected to ask cabinet to reconsider its review for a year after the new charges come into effect.

Panel chairman, Councillor Jonathan Gray, said: "We suggested the policy should go ahead, but that work should start immediately on reviewing incentives for cleaner cars.

"However the cabinet decided no review would begin until a year after the orders come into force - July 2009. So, with a realistic review time period of six to nine months minimum, plus the publishing of the orders etc - another six months - there may be no change in policy until late 2010 or early 2011.

"Given the speed of the environmental debate, I think we will be way off the pace by then, missing the opportunity to set HDC firmly ahead of any other council in encouraging cleaner cars. That's not my vision, nor the panel's, of how we want HDC to be viewed by those who live here or those outside."

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Cllr Gray added: "All our town centres already do have an air quality issue, so cars in lower emission bands will make an immediate difference in terms of toxic gases and particulates being breathed by residents of the district.

"It also makes economic sense to be consuming fossil fuels in a more efficient manner. Clearly a vehicle doing 60mpg should therefore be encouraged over one doing 30mpg or less."

But Cllr Peter Bucknell, whose cabinet portfolio includes transport, said so few cars fell into the panel's definition of low-emission vehicles that an immediate review would be too soon.

"In two years' time there may well be more vehicles in that category. But, if people are not registering for the discount, we shall have to think about going down another avenue."

The panel also wants revenue from parking charges ring-fenced to improvements in public transport.

The cabinet will consider the matter again tomorrow (Thursday).

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