JEREMY CLACKSON, our transport correspondent, on how Croydon’s air-polluting council is now coming after the elderly and poorer car owners
More car-free zones around schools and discounts on resident parking permits for those using low-emission vehicles are among proposals which Croydon Council seems set to introduce, it says as part of its effort to improve the toxic air quality which pervades much of the borough.
But hidden within a statement issued this morning was a detail-lite reference to increasing parking fees for Council Tax-payers who own older cars.
The statement was issued from Fisher’s Folly this morning, which chuntered on about “Croydon’s ambitions to become London’s greenest borough”.
Oblivious to the blatant contradiction between that green “ambition” and the council spending £10million per year to burn residents’ rubbish at the Beddington incinerator, Croydon’s statement unveiled a series of measures which, it claims, “build on existing successes and introduce new initiatives to encourage residents, visitors and businesses in the borough to take more, greener journeys”.
The “new initiatives” (presumably, as opposed to old initiatives) will be put before the next meeting of the council cabinet for approval … which means that they will be duly rubber-stamped and pushed through.
“We have led the way with some of our green initiatives including introducing pedestrian areas around schools and we are always looking to build on these successes,” said Stuart King, the Labour council’s cabinet member for polluted air and over-busy roads.
The council release said, “One option being considered proposes offering residents a substantial discount on the cost of parking permits if they drive the least polluting cars.”
Any reduction in parking permit income for one group of residents, though, is likely to be more than matched by increases for others.
Residents’ parking permits are currently an undiscriminating £80 per year for each Croydon household’s first car.
“Proposed residents’ parking fees fall in to five bands based on a vehicle’s CO2 emissions,” the council said. “Those in the greenest band would only cost £6.50 for the annual parking permit.”
Ominously, the council added: “As part of these measures the council will be consulting on increasing the cost of a residents’ parking permit for vehicles with higher CO2 emissions.”
Similar fee hikes announced recently in Sutton have caused much anger and distress among residents, some of whom fear that they will be forced to get rid of their vehicles. The policy has been criticised as being a “blunt instrument”, penalising vehicles based on their engine type and age, rather than actual car usage and emissions.
Older cars tend to be owned by less-well-off residents and pensioners, who also tend to use their cars less frequently. Wealthier residents, those able to afford modern cars with all the latest gizmos and gadgets, or who own properties large enough on which to have their own dedicated parking spaces, are unaffected by such a policy.
As are those who drive modern, low-emissions cars provided for them by their companies. Company car drivers tend to be among those who clock up the greatest mileage.
If approved by the cabinet, the draft parking policy will go out for public consultation in April.
The council is already “consulting” on banning road traffic from the area around eight schools during morning and afternoon peak periods. Car-free zones were introduced in pilot schemes at three primaries last year in an effort to help improve road safety around the schools and air quality.
A shortlist of schools who have expressed interest has been drawn up, with letters sent to the school communities and nearby residents to gather their views.
The new School Streets would come into effect from September 2019.
The eight shortlisted schools are:
- Norbury Manor Primary, Norbury
- Cypress Primary, South Norwood
- Winterbourne Junior Girls, Bensham Manor
- Fairchildes Primary, New Addington
- Harris Academy Purley, Purley Oaks and Riddlesdown
- Downsview Primary and nursery, Upper Norwood
- Harris Primary Academy Kenley, Kenley
- West Thornton Primary Academy, Broad Green
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