CROYDON COMMENTARY: Responding to Charlotte Davies’s column yesterday on the borough’s secret parking tax, ARFUR TOWCRATE, the Sage of Waddon, offers his view
“For a town that has built itself around the demands of the motor car, parking the vehicles is an ever-growing problem”. The two are inextricably related.
The Croydon paradigm/fallacy is that cars are essential to the well-being of the borough and that there is no alternative. In the 1960s and 1970s, this notion was given free rein. Public money was spent in making it easier to drive around, on Roman Way, the Flyover, the Underpass and the urban motorway that is Wellesley Road. Pedestrians were relegated to subways and cyclists simply ignored.
Consequently, and unsurprisingly, loads of people took to the roads in their cars. Congestion resulted and so the short-term gains were lost. Something had to be done.
In the 1990s, there were plans to build more flyovers, at Purley Cross and Fiveways. Duppas Hill Road was going to be turned into a dual carriageway to connect with a flyover taking it to Croydon Road by going over Waddon railway station. Thankfully, such ideas bit the dust, due in part to public concerns at the threat posed by the extreme motorist agenda set out in the South London Assessment Studies, and perhaps more significantly, a lack of money.
Then along came Tramlink, with the strapline of “cutting through congestion”, a ray of public transport sunshine for the new century. Or so it seemed. Rather than embrace the findings of Parliament’s Standing Advisory Commitee on Trunk Road Assessment, that you can’t build your way out of motor-traffic congestion, and that the converse of traffic induction is its evaporation – “don’t build it so they won’t come” – Chepstow Road was widened to accommodate the cars the council thought would be displaced by the trams.
Thirteen years after Tramlink opened, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the lessons of the past had never been given, let alone heeded.
Customers driving to the newly opened Morrisons supermarket on the Purley Way are complaining that the Fiveways junction cannot cope with demand and want something be done about it. They fail to realise they are the cause of the problem they moan about.
Westfield want to make it easier to drive all the way from the M25 into their revamp of the Whitgift centre, something that Croydon and Sutton’s London Assembly Member, Steve O’Connell, described to Boris at Mayor’s Question Time on July 22 as the “wallet-share” of the well-off from north Surrey. That means “sorting out” Purley Cross and Fiveways – and you can bet that those monstrous plans from the 1990s will be dusted off and put into place, largely at our expense, financial and otherwise.
For many years, central Croydon’s air quality indicators for nitrogen dioxide have failed to comply with EU safety levels. Such trivialities are glossed over by the planners – their stance is that because things are already bad, yet more traffic won’t make it worse than it already is.
There’s a terrible irony that Croydon Council, who now have both the responsibility and the authority to promote public health, seem determined to rush headlong into bringing more traffic, congestion and thus noxious fumes into the town centre.
This is at the same time that they are authorising plans to see many more people move into the town centre, in their own redundant skyscraper, Taberner House, the former Nestlé tower and the new residential blocks atop the Westfield development (not to mention the Menta monolith near East Croydon). In an ideal world, it would hardly help the estate agents flog off these new boxes, in what will be a smelly, unhealthy and gridlocked Croydon of the 2020s – but there’s nowt stranger than folk.
“For a town that has built itself around the demands of the motor car, parking the vehicles is an ever-growing problem”. We therefore need to change.
It’s time that Croydon was built around the demands for sustainable development and public health and well-being. If we planned primarily for the needs of local people, locally owned businesses and the local economy, rather than those of transnational property development corporations and long-distance car-borne customers, parking vehicles would be a decreasing problem – and there’d be a host of other benefits too.
Don’t hold your breath.
- Croydon’s secret tax on car parking that divides the borough
- “Two Permits” forced into U-turn (again) over parking charges
- Council increases charges for parking, burials and rat catching
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