Croydon's Labour-run Council have announced plans to:
- removing free parking bays from district centres, including Coulsdon Town
- increasing the cost of parking permits, hitting hardest those on the lowest incomes
- increasing the cost of parking in Council-owned car parks and bays
They have asked for feedback on these plans in a consultation. Whilst our Labour Council has rarely (if ever) listened to our residents, I believe it's important to engage with them when they ask for our views.
'Having read the proposal papers, I write in general opposition to the proposed parking changes for the following reasons:
- At a time of increased economic uncertainty, the removal of one-hour free parking in district centres like my own ward of Coulsdon Town strikes me as being nothing more than kicking SMEs when they are down. Rather than helping our local traders as much as we can, this policy would see the removal of an incentive for residents to shop in our high streets. This is especially exacerbated by the removal of many parking spaces on Lion Green Road while the new development is under construction. In 2016 I campaigned against Labour's plans to reduce free parking from one-hour to 30 minutes, this campaign was not successful and the Council went ahead with reducing the bay time limit. In 2017 Cllr King came to Coulsdon to announce he was increasing the bays back up to one-hour again. At the time he said: "We've spent the past year listening to businesses and the one thing they've told us over the past 12 months is: the council could help them by introducing free parking for one-hour for customers for their businesses. So we've listened, and we've acted." Businesses are aghast at these plans and are quite rightly asking: what has changed?
- The increase in the cost of parking in bays and car parks will dissuade many from shopping and so are another way these plans are detrimental for local businesses. Some have suggested such a move could encourage residents to jump in the car and drive to shopping districts in neighbouring boroughs such as Sutton or Bromley. This will be detrimental to local traders and, ironically, contribute more emissions and thus be worse for local air quality.
- The emissions-based parking charges discriminates against low earners. The cars that are going to see the highest permit cost increase are those will invariably be owned by those on low incomes which could include the elderly, the disabled, lone parents and young people. Indeed, this is something that Cllr King admitted at a Cabinet meeting on Monday 19th October where he said "The changes may have an impact on poorer car drivers, potentially on older residents."
- The changes are unlikely to deliver improvements in air quality. Within your plans car mileage is not considered in the new charging scheme. Many people will be penalised by this scheme despite being responsible for only minimal emissions due to a lack of general car use. Why was this more effective measure not considered? The current plan is more workable, but significantly less impactful if the true aim is to improve air quality.
- No way is presented to measure success or failure for your policy objectives. The Council wants to improve air quality, yet it proposes no mechanism by which it can truly assess whether increasing the cost of permit or parking in bays actually works. For us to properly assess the effectiveness of the policy we need to have proper, verifiable metrics. Anything else is just policy-making by gut-instinct. Our residents deserve better than that.
- The general aims of the proposal is conflicted. The Council has cited this policy as one which will help them recover from their financial crisis by raising an extra £1 million. This suggests they do not really expect behaviour change to result from it as they intend to use existing behaviours to generate revenue. It's entirely reasonable for residents to question whether these plans have been designed to truly improve air quality, or whether they're just designed to tax residents even further to help the Council get out of its financial quagmire.'
The Conservatives in Croydon are completely opposed to these plans. As well as sending in your thoughts, please consider joining our campaign against Labour's parking tax by clicking here.