Councillor Phil “Two Permits” Thomas’s shabby attempts to impose money-raising parking controls in Croydon took another turn yesterday, as homes in part of the northern Controlled Parking Zone around Broad Green finally received formal letters to ask them whether they wanted the controls extended in their street.
Yet Thomas and the local Conservative party which controls the council have already prejudiced the latest, unnecessary but costly consultation process by distributing leaflets in some parts of the borough telling residents that these previously overwhelmingly rejected proposals will be imposed, apparently regardless of the latest consultation.
“Two Permits” Thomas has two free parking permits for use within the borough, one for his own smart BMW, the other in the sports car owned by his wife, who has no formal role with the council. So they have no worries about where and when they can park, or the £70 annual charge to residents for the “privilege” if being able to park outside their own home, as he tries again to bulldoze through a scheme that could double the income from an area which the council’s own figures say already generates £536,000 per year – or 40 per cent of the borough’s total parking income.
It was Thomas’s wheeze to screw tens of thousands more money out of ordinary residents in central Croydon by trying to impose Draconian parking restrictions from 8am until midnight, seven days a week.
Despite the half-baked proposals being overwhelmingly rejected by the whole of the affected areas, and with the handling of the consultation being condemned even by local Tory MP Gavin Barwell, Thomas somehow still attempted to impose cash-generating restrictions in an area around Mayday Hospital.
Local councillors in the north of the borough had this decision “called in” for scrutiny, and Thomas’s Tory colleagues ordered him to drop the plan or stage another consultation in the affected area (all paid for, of course, by Council Tax-payers). Three months on, and individual consultation letters have finally started to be sent to residents in the North CPZ.
Dated May 3, and signed by Mirsad Bakalovic, Croydon’s head of parking services, the covering letter is an object lesson in an effort to mislead as it enumerates two options:
“1) Extend restrictions so they apply between 8am and midnight, Monday to Sunday
2) Extend restrictions so they apply between 9am and 8pm, Monday to Saturday”
There is, in fact, a third option: no change. Properly, this option is included on the questionnaire page which is to be returned to the council. But by numbering just two options on the covering letter, is the council deliberately trying to cause confusion among many of the residents in the affected area around London Road and Bensham Lane?
Intriguingly, the council has come up with a previously undiscussed and undisclosed additional option, “Extend restrictions so they apply between 9am and 8pm, Monday to Saturday”, which was not included in the original consultation. Is this, too, calculated to confuse?
And while Councillor Thomas runs a two-car household, it seems that no allowance has been made for the views of all eligible residents in the affected area, as just a single form has been sent to each address.
Thomas is clearly a man who cannot take “no” for an answer. So prickly is he about any criticism, he refuses to meet with opponents to his parking plans and his bullying style when chairing public meetings sees him bandy about threats to exclude members of the public who dare question him or his colleagues over their ill-thought-out scheme. He even resorts to wasting police time over imagined “threats”, in order to forcibly ban opponents from the Town Hall.
Yet even before the latest consultation letters had been delivered, Thomas and his Tory cronies had managed to blunder by prejudicing the entire process.
In the most recent edition of the Croydon Conservatives’ In Touch leaflet distributed in some parts of the borough, Thomas spouts the usual load of old tosh about having staged a “genuine consultation” and “listening” to residents on the parking issue.
Ominously, the Tory party freesheet also includes the following passage:
“Following the consultation with residents about the possible extension of restricted hours in the Controlled Parking Zones around the borough, your Conservative Council has listened very carefully to residents. As a result it has been decided that most of the extensions will not be carried out and the controlled hours and areas will be left unchanged. The only exception is the busy area around Croydon University Hospital (Mayday) where the changes will be made in order to make it easier for local residents to park.” Them’s our italics.
So Croydon’s Conservative party is saying, even before the consultation letters have landed on residents’ doormats, that “the changes will be made”.
The local residents’ action groups in the north of the borough, including the Oshwal Centre and the Croydon Mosque, believe this demonstrates an absolute breach of trust over the latest consultation by Thomas and his Tory majority on the traffic management committee.
They point to the previous consultation, carried out either side of Christmas, when at least one petition of more than 200 signatures from the North CPZ was ignored; where a letter from Croydon North MP Malcolm Wicks was not included in the council’s report; and where the views of 44 residents were used to make a case for imposing Draconian parking restrictions.
To this day, the council has refused to release figures of how many people really voted in favour of the changes in this area.
The politically unaligned campaigners, Croydon Residents Against Parking Plans – or CRAPP – say, “As well as the residents in the surrounding roads, this directly affects everyone in the borough who wishes to visit Croydon University Hospital (formerly Mayday) which itself has very limited and expensive parking facilities.”
Yet the consultation letter specifically states that the council only wants to hear from occupiers in the affected area. It appears that the entirely valid opinions of many others who may be affected, such those employed in local businesses, or those who work or visit Mayday Hospital, the Mosque or Oshwal Centre, are to be deliberately ignored by the council and excluded from its consultation report. The Mosque has already delivered a 600-signature petition against the council’s proposed changes.
A spokesman for CRAPP says, “It may be that people would like to write to Croydon Council and to the council leader and the cabinet member and ask them whether this In Touch newsletter means the outcome is already decided.”
- The next meeting of the council’s traffic management committee is Tuesday, May 10, at 6.30pm, at the Town Hall. Despite overwhelming opposition from Norbury Green Residents’ Association, and from residents, ward councillors and local businesses, Thomas and his top team seem determined to pick off another section of the borough and impose yet another money-making parking scheme, this time in Norbury and Thornton Heath.
- Click here to see the agenda and reports for next Tuesday’s council TMCC meeting.
- Click here to see the online version of the council’s latest consultation on parking in the area around Mayday Hospital. The consultation deadline is at the end of May.
- And if you wish to ask about the prejudicial In Touch leaflets, you can email David Wakeling at Croydon Council at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the council leader email@example.com, and copy your email to “Two Permits” himself: Phil Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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