£900 a year’s worth of free parking: time to take the tram

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, with a population estimated to be around 520,000, manages to survive with just 60 politicians in its own parliament. That is 50 per cent more people than in Croydon, and 10 fewer paid politicians.

Croydon’s Council Tax-payers fork out £1.6 million a year in “allowances and national insurance” for its 70 elected councillors.

How many care permits does any councillor need, when Croydon has a good public transport system?

How many car permits does any councillor need, when Croydon has a good public transport system?

Then there are all the add-on costs and other benefits foisted upon our elected representatives, such as the two parking permits for free parking anywhere from Upper Norwood to Farthing Downs which each of our councillors are allowed to claim. Presuming that Croydon’s councillors are mere mortals who can only drive one car at a time, there seems to be no justification for a system of two permits that is clearly reliant on members being trusted to use their permits solely in the pursuit of council business.

Some councillors may argue that they come from two-car households (lucky them – though it might just offer evidence that they are overpaid) and that the permits are related to specific number plate registrations.

The permits are also made available to Croydon’s three MPs.

The permits allow for free parking in any on-street parking bay or in 18 different car parks around the borough. This is all in addition to free parking for councillors under the Town Hall.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs values this parking perk as being worth £900 a year per permit. That works out at £3,600 over a four-year term of office. That tax liability is avoided if councillors attest to using the permit “only for council business”. Which, of course, they do.

With a new council beginning on Tuesday evening, surely now is the time to cut the permit available to just one per councillor, or perhaps get them to buy a few bus or tram tickets and get councillors to join the mere mortals among the electorate and use public transport?


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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8 Responses to £900 a year’s worth of free parking: time to take the tram

  1. KristianCyc says:

    If there’s any real commitment to moving towards a sustainable transport system in Croydon with better walking, cycling and public transport then the parking permits should be ditched altogether. Politicians who travel via the sustainable modes are better placed to identify the problems and guide the council towards addressing the issues.

  2. Pingback: £900 a year’s worth of free parking: time to take the tram | arnorab

  3. I agree with Kristian. Free parking for councillors puts them out of touch with the experience of other Croydonians. Also, at a time when funds for local government are shrinking, councillors should lead by example and cut their generous allowances and perks.

  4. davidcallam says:

    Well said Kristian! And while we’re at it, could we persuade them to cut councillors’ allowances by 30% and freeze them for the whole of this administration.

  5. I do not drive. I use public transport. I will not be claiming a permit on this occasion.

  6. east1956 says:

    Dear RiffRaff,
    Your pseudo-Puritanical intent to impoverish the lives of those around you, reducing us all to the lowest common denominator is, we suggest, indicative of jealousy arising out your own inability to run for and secure office. It also illustrates your fundamental ignorance of political life.

    Two universal parking permits are the bare minimum a councillor could manage on.

    The first is obviously for the elected member, who requires to be able to travel about the borough doing good works and at the same time needing to have an enclosed and secure environment of peace to gather his or her thoughts.

    The second parking permit is for the elected members support team that carries bags, party political leaflets and organises refreshments, etc etc. This may well be the elected member’s long suffering spouse who loyally races to & fro. In other environments this second vehicle could be described as the “crew bus”, full of hurly-burly.

    The immense benefit the residents of Croydon obtain, with members such as ourselves arriving cool, calm & collected, fully briefed and supported, able to make clear objectives for the benefits of Croydon is truly immeasurable.

    While comparisons may be made to the Duchy of Luxembourg, but these are entirely misplaced. Croydon is part of the dynamic London environment for good and ill. It is this latter factor that we need to consider. Croydon councillors, especially Cabinet members, attract the attention and opprobrium of all sorts of misguided and possibly deranged persons.

    The pages of Inside Croydon bear witness to the presence of such dangerous people. For any councillor of substance to travel on public transport would require at least one close-protection police officer to be assigned to him or her. This cost of this would astronomical, and thus using motor vehicles provides the Value For Money / Best Value solution to the situation.

    Reasonable right-minded persons would readily grasp this basic need and wouldn’t go about town implying that we are abusing our offices.

    Yours,

    P, M & D
    p.s. Thanks for the votes!

  7. Karen Jewitt says:

    I too like Andrew will not be claiming a permit, I do not own a car, I use public transport. I do however not have a problem with members of the Council having a permit for one car. Councillors who live in a controlled parking zone still have to buy their yearly permit, it is not free just because you are an elected member. If you are visiting constituents or going to meetings in line with your work then use your permit, this is in line with other council employees who do personal visits. Parking under the town hall is free for those attending council meetings anyway. I will admit I am grateful on occasion to have a lift after late meetings or on a rainy evening from a colleague!

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