This week sees new charges being imposed by the City Council on users of Cambridge’s Shop Mobility Service. Yet the so-far unpublished results of the council’s public consultation show uniform hostility to the scheme.
The responses to the consultation were obtained by Lib Dem Cllr Tim Bick who has been campaigning against the new charges.
The council decided in January to introduce the charges subject to consultation, but they publicised the consultation badly and immediately unfurled a huge banner outside the Shop Mobility reception in the Grand Arcade car park simply announcing the charges - without mention of any interest in people’s views. This was in place throughout the consultation period.
Cllr Bick said: “It’s hardly surprising that the responses were few, but they were strikingly clear in their opposition [see below]. The results were never provided to councillors before the charges went ahead.
“This whole exercise is astoundingly two-faced. It looks like Labour council leaders wanted to be able to say they were consulting people in a nice democratic way, but in practice brushed the whole thing under the carpet and buried the result because it was too inconvenient. With behaviour like this, it’s easy to see how people lose trust in public bodies.
“In this case, it’s so much more outrageous because it’s impact is to the detriment of disabled and elderly people, those who Cambridge should be leaning over backward to include in the life of the city.
“It’s shameful enough that it was a Labour council which wanted to introduce these charges in the first place. All their rhetoric about “one Cambridge fair for all” looks a bit sick - just words, when you think of how this is bound to increase isolation among those vulnerable people who have to count their pennies. Council officers warned them that it stood to reduce usage by at least 20%. Cambridge could have afforded maintaining a free service if they had tried hard enough and being inclusive had been a real priority.”
- Details of the new charges being introduced this week can be seen here: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/shopmobility
- The summary of comments received from the public which was supplied to Cllr Bick by the Council can be read here
- A photo of the banner at the Shop Mobility reception, which was present throughout the public consultation, is attached below
- The report to committee which includes the officer’s warning that the new charges would reduce usage by 20% (para 2.2 p3) can be accessed here: https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/documents/s41293/FINAL Shopmobility Charges Report November 2017 04 12 17 FINAL 3 as sent 29 12 17.pdf
- Contact: Cllr Tim Bick 07720 413173 email@example.com