A COUNCILLOR charged with the decision for making a Uttoxeter car park free claims she is victim to ‘a personal vendetta’ after a vote of no confidence was brought against her.
Julia Jessel took the ultimate decision to make Fairfield Road car park free, a decision she had the power to make in her role as deputy leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council.
The car park was under review as part of the local plan and it was discovered it was bringing in £4,000 a year, costing more for the attendant and machine maintenance.
She was found not to have breached any rules as it was not seen to be a key decision for the authority.
However, councillors brought a vote of no confidence against her at the last full council meeting, but she will keep her position after she won the vote by 18 votes to 17.
Councillor Jessel said: “The proposal was put forward by Councillor Peter Ball and it was assumed it would be a key decision.
“I did not break any rules and I took the decision with the best intentions for the people of Uttoxeter.
“I think it is a personal vendetta against me as there are former Conservatives hellbent on getting me off the cabinet and they chose a subject where no rules had been broken and I acted with consent.
“I took the decision to provide better services for local people. They had plenty of opportunities to raise concerns about it. I think it is regrettable that councillors put themselves before the people they represent.
“A free car park is a real benefit and it is more about a personal vendetta.”
Councillor Jessel added the ‘grossly underused’ car park saw only nine spaces out of 73 used on a daily basis.
However, Uttoxeter councillor Andrew Riley and Julian Mott, leader of the opposition party, said it was the fact they were not informed about the decision which had led to the vote.
Councillor Riley said: “She made the decision on her own rather than going through the cabinet and full council.
“Myself and the other borough councillors were not against the free parking but we do not think it was enough as all the car parks should be free to regenerate the town. It is however, a major step forward. My main concern was it is something happening in Uttoxeter that makes a massive difference so I should be notified.”
Councillor Mott added: “We were concerned because the first time we found out about it was in the press rather than through the council. We thought it was a key decision. We have been saying for a long time it was ridiculous to expect people to pay the same to park there as in the centre.”