Croydon’s bankrupt Labour council are plotting to squeeze an extra £8million out of hard-pressed Croydon motorists.
The budget this year reveals their plan to rake-in an extra £3million from parking charges. They will achieve this by levying the biggest ever car-parking charge increase in Croydon’s history.
Labour also intends to raise an additional £5million from automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. These devices capture the details of drivers who inadvertently drive down closed roads. Fines are issued accordingly.
These closed streets include the controversial “low traffic neighbourhoods” (LTNs) that Labour has imposed on streets across the borough. The LTNs have proved unpopular with residents and damaged local businesses. The high income anticipated in the budget will add substance to suggestions that the LTNs are being stubbornly left in place to help the council refill its coffers.
There are two major problems with these proposals.
Firstly, Labour created this problem. It was their failure to heed warnings that has led to Croydon’s bankruptcy. Yet they expect residents to pay the price with increased charges and fines.
As businesses fully reopen this summer, the council should be doing everything in its power to show support. Instead, these measures will make attracting customers much more difficult.
Secondly, this is a high-risk strategy. We don’t yet know exactly how long social distancing will last. We can’t meaningfully predict what parking levels will be once the economy reopens. How confident are the council that this income is achievable?
Furthermore, following a high-court ruling against the mayor of London, the LTN schemes, which use ANPR, are of questionable legality. The council may be instructed to remove them.
This will create a black hole in the borough’s finances. Again. And if it does, it will no doubt be to residents, business and motorists that they again come knocking.