I HOPE you all had a happy and peaceful Christmas. As this is the last Editor’s Chair column for this year, I thought I’d indulge myself with a few hopes and wishes for 2013.
Top of the list of New Year resolutions would be a resolution to the parking charges problem in Newport city centre.
The council cannot seem to decide how much two hours’ free parking costs in lost revenue. One minute it’s £700,000, the next it’s £800,000, then it’s £1 million.
The reality is, however much the estimated lost revenue is, the council cannot possibly hope to recoup that amount from the reintroduction of charges.
At best it will ‘save’ around a third of whatever the lost revenue is – because the council intends to charge £1 for three hours and pre-free parking it charged £3 for three hours.
But even that assumes that car-park usage remains the same – and that will not happen because there will be an inevitable fall-off and the Cambrian car park is due to close as the Admiral development begins.
So the ‘savings’ from a hugely unpopular decision will be tiny in the grand scheme of things.
There are alternatives to the city council’s plan to end free parking at its city centre car parks from February – and I sense there are a growing number of Labour councillors who want to see an end to their leadership’s intransigence on this issue.
Shortly after launching the Keep City Parking Free campaign we proposed a scheme whereby the council’s £1 charge remained but local shops offered a £1 discount, thereby effectively keeping parking free but also giving shoppers an incentive to use local stores.
More than a year ago I suggested setting up a Business Improvement District in the city centre, having been involved in setting one up elsewhere in the country a few years ago.
The council’s political leadership seems more interested in settling old scores with the Argus than engaging with us on these ideas.
Let’s hope 2013 removes the scales from the eyes of Newport’s political leaders.
Bring on more sporting success in new year!
SOME sporting success for our leading teams is my other main new year wish. Promotion for Newport County AFC would be a massive boost for the city and just reward for years of often unappreciated graft from people like David Hando, Chris Blight and Matt Southall.
A few wins and some support from the WRU for the Newport Gwent Dragons would also not go amiss.
Newport has a real chance to establish itself as a centre of sporting excellence in 2013 with Rodney Parade, the velodrome, and the FAW development all making huge strides. Local people just need to start appreciating some of the outstanding facilities available to them.
A few more thoughts and hopes for 2013:
● Some humility from senior officers at Caerphilly council who need to show they understand that 20 per cent pay rises are totally unacceptable at a time of austerity for their staff.
● Work starting on the Friars Walk development in Newport – but also an understanding that it is a catalyst for the city centre rather than a solution to its problems.
● A successful merger between Newport and Glamorgan universities.
And by that I mean a merger that retains Newport’s status as a university city.
● An upturn in the nation’s economic health so we can all feel more hopeful about the future.
● Oh, and a Premier League and FA Cup double for Liverpool – though I appreciate I am now moving into fairytale territory!