“Two Permits” forced into U-turn (again) over parking charges

Phil Thomas: will he resign after the fiasco of a second climbdown?

People power has won the day for a second time against attempts by the Tory group on Croydon Council to steamroll through a scheme to extend parking restrictions in the north of the borough around Mayday Hospital aimed at making money from the sick and elderly, as well as hard-pressed local businesses and residents.

Now it remains to be seen whether Phil Thomas, the councillor who has been forced to make a second U-turn after aggressively driving proposals for new parking restrictions in the borough, will resign after having promised Conservative supporters that he “will” introduce the parking restrictions.

In a letter seen by Inside Croydon, Croydon Council’s David Wakeling writes:

“I have drafted the report which recommends not to proceed with any changes to the zone and have no reason to believe that this will be changed.”

Wakeling, Croydon council’s “Traffic Design Manager” (how does one “design” “traffic”?), is due to finalise his report in the next two weeks, before it goes to the traffic management committee on June 20.

If the rejection of the plan is confirmed, the outcome will be widely applauded by the dozens of energetic residents who have been working tirelessly against the council’s Draconian parking proposals, attracting the thousands of supporters for their campaign since the end of last year.

But important questions remain as to how the council can so badly handle a consultation process, which even lacked an Equalities Impact Assessment report, an essential required by law.

In February, following an extensive two-month campaign by Croydon Residents Against Parking Proposals (CRAPP), “Two Permits” Thomas was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn over his initial proposals to lengthen parking restrictions in central Croydon.

Even local Tory MP Gavin Barwell criticised the way the council had conducted its consultation and called on those responsible to apologise to residents. To date, Thomas has refused to say sorry to Croydon.

Attempts to intimidate and bully the protesters by Thomas, who reported one of the campaigners to the police and had him banned from the Town Hall, did not deter the activitists.

Yet despite the overwhelming and obvious opposition to his ill-considered proposals, which seemed transparently aimed at raising yet more cash from patients and visitors to the hospital, as well as local businesses and residents, with the 8am to midnight restrictions, Thomas produced a new proposal confined to an area around Broad Green and Croydon University Mayday Hospital. This area already generates more money in parking fees than any other part of Croydon, more than £500,000 per year going in to Croydon’s coffers even under existing parking restrictions.

As he had overseen a badly botched consultation in the first instance, Thomas was now forced to put his new scheme out to another round of consultation – at further needless expense to the council tax-payers. Even then, the consultation document was flawed, badly drafted and biased, leading to yet more official complaints to the council.

CRAPP’s energetic members got back out on to the roads of the area, backed by organisers from Croydon Mosque and the Oshwal Centre, whose previous petitions and objections had somehow been overlooked by Thomas.

Now, it seems, all their hard work has been rewarded with the council finally admitting defeat.

Since Croydon’s press department refuses to answer the questions, it will be interesting to see whether Freedom of Information Act requests for the costs of the parking proposal consultations are comprehensively answered, and whether Thomas does the decent thing and resign his position on the council in charge of environment and highways.

About insidecroydon

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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