Tunnel vision – Park and Ride Charges as an example

It seems that car drivers are to pay a charge to park their cars at the park and ride sites. Not really very shocking and will generate much needed revenue. In fact, very good value it would seem compared to parking elsewhere and we all know that parking is at a premium in Cambridge.

But the merits of that one isolated decision is not the point.

Charging, of any sort, must be seen in context and how it helps to solve the real issue facing the county council – funding social care.

Social care uses up most of the councils budget, supports the most needy in our society who have very few life style choices available to them, and is vital if our elderly, frail, disabled and mentally ill are to thrive.

Social care is not a vote winner. It is hard to see. It generally does not affect the noisy, politically minded working middle classes and it is hard to campaign on to win votes as it is such a huge problem.

But be assured. Every charge levied on those who can afford it goes to help pay the enormous and fast growing social care budget.

Until the government, of all colours, recognises the structural funding failure for social care, that has existed for many years, then local councils will have to continue to cut back other services and add charges. That is because social care is not a discretionary service. The council is obliged to carry it out despite less money being available year on year.

So, as armchair commentators, it is easy to point at the vote winning issues, like park and ride, and make a big fuss. But it is those who can see and take responsibility for the big issues, the whole picture, that need our support.

Local politicians who continue to seek votes at the expense of those who the council really does need to protect do us all a disservice.

Perhaps we can get a local campaign going to support the elderly and see what appens.

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