Mayor of Mansfield responds to calls for her to step down
Mayor of Mansfield, Kate Allsop has said that comments she made about parking have been taken out of context.
There were calls for Ms Allsop to resign after comments she made at a meeting of Mansfield District Council on January 23.
When asked about a free parking scheme in Mansfield Town Centre, Ms Allsop responded by saying: "If we were to do that, people who live outside the district in Newark, Ravenshead and Chesterfield, and indeed, anywhere outside of Mansfield would have their parking paid by Mansfield residents and the council would lose income."
Councillor Lee Anderson who is standing for the rival conservative party in the forthcoming council elections, lead the calls for her resignation, saying: "Our town is desperate for help and the one person who has executive powers to make the right decisions has decided that we do not want "outsiders" parking free in our town, whilst in other areas like Ashfield and Gedling the introduction of free parking has made a real difference.
"In the best interests of the people of Mansfield the mayor should now step down with immediate effect before she does any more damage."
However, Ms Allsop said her comments had been taken out of context, and the income lost from eradicating parking charges could amount to £1 million.
Ms Allsop said: “What I said at full council last week has been taken out of context. It goes without saying that I want to attract visitors into Mansfield so any other suggestion is ludicrous. I am very proud of all that Mansfield has to offer and the council is working hard to make Mansfield a visitor destination.
“We continue to put a lot of thought into how to attract visitors and encourage them to spend longer here. We have had parking incentives that support the town centre which are affordable for the council, for almost four years.
"The council would lose nearly £1m per year in vital income if it offered two hours of free parking in all its car parks. This money enables us to maintain services and balance the council’s overall budget.
“Despite a 65 percent cut in our Central Government grant since 2010, we’ve managed not to pass the burden on to our residents who have seen a 0 percent rise in Mansfield District Council’s element of Council Tax for nine years in a row. It’s likely there would need to be a substantial increase in Council Tax to cover the loss of income from free parking.
“Any bid for funding from the Future High Streets Fund would be for a range of initiatives to support the long term sustainability of the town centre and help us achieve our vision of creating a vibrant town centre where people live and spend their leisure time as well as shop and use services.”