According to one newspaper report, Croydon Council has already axed its ridiculously ill-thought-out plans to extend parking restrictions in the controlled zones in the central part of the borough.
So much, then, for Councillor Phil “Two Permits” Thomas’s robust defence of the “genuine consultation” over his parking plans.
Only last Monday, Councillor Thomas was telling an official council meeting that the consultation process would not finish until Friday (Feb 4), with the outcome being announced this Wednesday, February 9.
Yet the Croydon Sadvertiser, with its deadline of last Wednesday – a full seven days before the announcement is due – contained extensive details from what it claimed to be a leaked council report, alongside a lovingly staged picture of “Two Permits” Thomas and the paper’s editor receiving a massive … 250 signatures [coughs with embarrassment].
The Sadvertiser was very late to this particular story, despite being contacted by local residents’ groups nearly two months ago. In the end, the CRAPP (that’s not too rude; it means Croydon Residents Against Parking Plans) online campaign, and its dedicated band of supporters who leafleted and petitioned in their neighbourhoods, managed to raised nearly 10 times the number of signatures that the local newspaper did.
Yet Councillor “Two Permits” Thomas – who has a free parking permit provided by the council for his own BMW and one for his wife’s sports car, only ever used on official council business, of course – arranged for the photo op last week with the increasingly small circulation newspaper.
He must have known they were planning a report on Friday. According to the paper, they asked him about the leaked report.
Will Councillor Thomas now be investigating how the report came to be leaked? Will the culprit be sacked from their council duties? And what other stories have been offered to the local press recently?
Will “Two Permits” also explain how such a report can be compiled before the consultation period is complete, apparently pre-judging the outcome of his “genuine consultation” process?
And why would anyone leak such a document, unless they wanted favourable, uncritical coverage in the local rag, eh, “Two Permits”?
Of course, it was not the pliant Sadvertiser which did the journalistic hard yards to come up with the information that Thomas and other councillors overseeing the parking proposals benefited mightily from free permits for their car(s), provided at the expense of local residents.
According to the leaked report, the reasons given for dropping the parking zone proposals include “The proposal is unfair, unreasonable and discriminates against residents”; “Friends and family visiting on Sundays and evenings will have to pay, which will have a detrimental impact on lives”; “There is no evidence to support the view that the lack of parking spaces is due to extra traffic”; and “Sunday parking controls will have a significant negative impact on worshippers attending churches”.
All of which would have been obvious to anyone of average intelligence within two minutes of considering the plans. Which begs the question: why were such ill-considered proposals not binned immediately?
Perhaps the £350,000 a year in council income from parking fees and fines, according to the council’s own report from last year, might have something to do with it?
The trouble is, the increased controlled hours will also require an increase in staffing to patrol the streets, and according to the council’s latest document, issued ahead of this week’s meeting, even in a limited area in the north of the borough around Norbury, Thornton Heath and Norwood Junction, that could cost an extra £120,000 per year. Or the price of keeping one local library open.
“All I’ll say is that it is a consultation and we’re keen to hear what people have to say on the proposals,” was the one quote that Councillor “Two Permits” gave to the Sadvertiser on the record.
Here at Inside Croydon Towers, we’re delighted that Councillor Thomas wants to hear what people have to say. So we’d be very interested to hear what Councillor Thomas has to say about:
- Why was the petition against the parking zone changes on Croydon Council’s own website, which had already collected nearly 800 signatures, shut down by the council a full 24 hours before the end of Councillor Thomas’s consultation period?
- Why was the council so reluctant to accept formal petitions against the proposals when delivered by hand to the council’s offices?
- And how much did Councillor Thomas’s “consultation process” over a parking scheme that nobody appeared to want, end up costing the people of Croydon?