Parking charge consultation begins as air quality worsens

Our transport correspondent JEREMY CLACKSON on the latest sham consultation from the council intended to justify a £300 per year charge for resident parking permits

Croydon Council’s propaganda department – the press office, which operates off a budget of around £500,000 per year – went into full-on Goebbels mode before the Bank Holiday weekend, issuing a release which falsely claimed: “Parking scheme could make Croydon London’s greenest borough”.

This comes from a local authority that is to pay £10million per year over 25 years to an incinerator operator to burn domestic rubbish trucked in from across south-east England, including the possibility of radioactive waste. And all the smoke, fumes and particulates will be sent up the chimneys of Viridor incinerator at Beddington Lane, to be carried on the wind, polluting the air, who knows where…

There’s further dissembling within the parking scheme which the council is now consulting on. The premise of the scheme is that by hiking residents’ permit fees by up to 375per cent simply for the privilege of being able to park their cars near their homes, the council will in some way manage to reduce the amount of vehicle emissions.

The council’s premise ignores the fact that parked cars make no emissions. Smarter systems of emissions control, in which the polluter pays, are already widely available.

The glossy-looking parking policy document full of false premises, and which has been adopted by Croydon’s Labour council

In the tosh emitted from Croydon Council’s press department last week, they claimed, “Croydon is continuing its journey…”, ahhh, a journey, “… to become a greener borough as a consultation on new emissions-based parking charges, offering major discounts to drivers with less polluting cars.”

There’s a lie even in the first sentence of the council’s release: the parking charges are not based on actual emissions, but on a hypothecation which makes no calculation for the actual use of cars.

Indeed, there’s a good case to argue that the Labour council’s proposed parking charges deliberately discriminate against the poor and older residents, those without the means to buy flash new cars, or have a hybrid vehicle provided by their employers, or have off-road parking in front of their large home.

Local businesses, for whom finding somewhere to park for their staff, deliveries and customers is a constant battle, do not yet appear to have awoken to the possibility that the parking fee hikes might affect them, too. Yes, of course businesses should encourage their clients to use public transport – in a city where TfL is axing and curtailing bus services, including in Croydon.

In March, when the council originally broke cover with its parking charges hike, it was presented by Paul Scott, the Woodside councillor and bestie of Labour council leader Tony Newman. This time, wheeled out by officials to front up the council’s load of misleading piffle was Stuart King, the cabinet member for polluted air and traffic jams.

“We are committed to reducing air pollution and want Croydon to become London’s greenest borough,” was the quote attributed to King, who has been a member of a council for five years, in which time air pollution in Croydon has regularly broken legal limits and got steadily worse.

In case you didn’t quite get the message the first time, the council press office stuck in this bit of redundant quotage in on behalf of Councillor King, too: “We are working hard to make Croydon London’s greenest borough, and reducing air pollution is at the heart of that challenge.”

This, remember, is supposedly coming from a senior member of a council which since 2014 has vigorously pursued a policy of encouraging international developers to build a supermall in the town centre which deliberately attracts more people to drive their cars into Croydon, and would provide a 3,500-space car park to make it all the more convenient.

Cllr King gets himself a parking ticket. Not that he needs one…

“Applying a polluter pays model is one of a number of ways we are trying to encourage people to make more environmentally friendly journey choices,” King said, conveniently misleading because the money-spinning parking scheme which the council officials want to impose on residents is not a “polluter pays model”, but a parker pays model.

To support its false premise for charging residents more for the simple amenity of on-road parking, the council even has the brass neck to admit that 75 per cent of the borough’s residents are “concerned” about Croydon’s wretched air quality, even though the Town Hall routinely assumes policies and practices which make the air quality worse, or simply tries to ignore it.

Such as the occasion when an environmental report was submitted to the planning committee, unchallenged, which claimed that there was no issue with air pollution along the four-lane Purley Way, and therefore it would be alright to build a large primary school alongside the busy A23.

The dissembling in last week’s council official press release continued: “The new parking scheme would see different parking charges for vehicles depending on how much CO2 they produce per kilometre.” Except, unstated, is the fact that the council has no intention of measuring how much mileage residents do in their cars. It’s simply going to lump on a £300 parking permit fee to all vehicles that were made before 2001.

The hike in car parking charges, as laid out in the council’s reports

The council officials behind this devious and deceitful scheme, which could at least double the Town Hall’s revenue from parking permits to £2million per year, want to steamroller it into place later this year.

The council says, “Business and all other permits would be introduced in 2020 and on- and off-street parking restrictions could be introduced the following year.”

A sham consultation – they ask for the public’s opinion, and then go ahead and do what they intended to do in the first place – has been quietly launched and runs until June 20.

To put forward your views on the scheme, click here.

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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
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16 Responses to Parking charge consultation begins as air quality worsens

  1. A couple of days ago the air around West and Central Croydon stank and, along with several other people, I experienced breathing difficulty. I had occasion to go over to Perry Hill and it was fine there. Isn’t it time our Borough started monitoring and publishing air quality details? With the hotter weather there are bound to be an increasing amount of air inversions (on days of little or no breeze, colder air trapping in warm air and all the pollution underneath). Even apart from all the extra diesel fumes associated with the Beddington incinerator traffic, we need to wake up to fact that there is already a serious problem. There is no enforcement when thoughtless people leave their motor engines running. Again, where are the statistics showing that anyone near here has ever been fined?

  2. derekthrower says:

    There are several information sources providing constant updates about local air quality. For instance ( can provide updates to your mobile or email account. More times than expected it provides warnings about moderate pollution levels in the Croydon area. The air around Wellesley Road and Purley Way on certain days goes beyond this and is inhibiting to those with breathing problems. The only problem is what does a parking scheme based on apparent pollution emissions when a vehicle is not emitting pollution do to change this. When you base an action on irrationality you bring trust in that organisation into disrepute. This is clearly an opportunistic measure to raise income using environmental concern as a pretext. All it will probably do is make things worse as those who will do their utmost to avoid it will use unregulated parking spaces or create their own space by converting their front gardens into parking bays for instance. There is no clear mechanism that this measure will improve pollution emissions in the local area. This can only be achieved by the intervention of public authorities which cover wider geographic areas and have more substantial legal powers.

    • Among the many deceptions about air quality perpetrated by governments to favour the oil and motor industry ONE STANDS OUT:
      The highest rate for hospital admissions occurs at levels called MODERATE ! by airtext.

    • I think you make some really good points here Derek. It could even be argued that residents bays need to be maintained, not highly taxed, as they are a deterrent to other car users. For example, if I’m seeing someone in a neighbouring area and the streets are 90 % residents parking only (as seems to the case in parts of Lambeth) I will invariably use public transport making this a useful way of reducing car fumes.

  3. Hourly reports on Croydon monitoring stations and others are provided on the London Air Quality Network site.

  4. “The council’s premise ignores the fact that parked cars make no emissions.” Unfortunately they do. Evaporative emissions are created from vapours from the car’s fuel system, such as when when the car’s engine remains hot a certain period of time after it is turned off and fuel evaporation continues even when the car is parked.

    And of course, when cars are not parked, they are in use. Driving creates emissions, not just from the fuel consumed but also the wear on the tyres and the brake pads, which we all breathe in. If a parking charge hike persuades consumers to think about lower emissions models, then it deserves support.

    Croydon council can do more still to cut pollution of all kinds generated by motor-traffic. They can bring in a central London style congestion and pollution charge, work with the police to stop drivers speeding and take their own measures to cut rat-running through residential streets, lobby the Mayor and TfL to extend the Ultra Low Emissions Zone and abandon plans to regenerate Croydon’s economy by turning the town centre into a traffic magnet. And, of course, invest money in making roads safer and easier for people of all ages so they can and do choose to cycle instead of drive.

    • That’s odd. Because Peter Underwood, a professional environmentalist and leading figure in the Green Party in south London, says that this form of parking charge is a bogus environmental policy which will impact the poor and the elderly more than the biggest polluters and those who drive the most.

      “To reduce air pollution and climate change we need to encourage more people to leave their cars at home, or not have a car, and to walk, cycle, or use public transport instead,” Underwood told Inside Croydon back in March.

      “I support the intentions of the council’s measures, but I think they are going about it the wrong way.

      “The problem isn’t with cars being parked, it’s with cars being driven.

      “Introducing restrictions on parking at destinations (for example, outside a school) can be useful as a way of encouraging people to use other transport methods.

      “But increasing costs of parking a car outside your own house seems a very blunt instrument to tackle the problem. This will impact more on people with older vehicles and in less wealthy areas of Croydon who don’t have off-street parking and they are probably not the ones doing the most driving.”

      This council’s has zero credibility on environmental issues. Underwood, on the other hand, seems to be making absolute sense.

      There’s more here.

      • derekthrower says:

        Everyone knows when the school run occurs traffic levels increase and roads becomes congested. A factor in this is with regards to the distance children have to travel to receive their schooling. A simple environmental reform would be to return to the system of children receiving education in a local catchment area rather than the current claimed system of education choice. The state should concern itself with the causes of emission levels within it’s control rather than use emissions as a pretext to just raise income.

    • derekthrower says:

      If you want to go into the micro level of pollution then we can say cyclists use precious materials in the production of bikes and also create emissions as their tyre wear makes microscopic dust on the surface. This is of course all relative, but really your argument is about banning car use rather than parking.

      • If you want to go into the micro level of pollution then we can say pedestrians use precious materials in the production of shoes and also create emissions as their sole wear makes microscopic dust on the surface.

        This is of course all relative, but really my argument is not about banning car use.

  5. Lewis White says:

    With regard to the proposed parking charge, I fear that it penalises the less-well off. I don’t seek to support any measure that punishes anyone, but I would hazard a guess that the biggest polluters locally are the drivers of diesel vans and taxis, older buses, and big cars with double exhaust pipes. As old cars come off the roads, the emission problems should reduce, but in reality, how trustworthy are the emission tests for new cars, anyway?

    With regard to George Wright’s submission above, I suspect that, if the air he was breathing in this part of Croydon smelled of burning plastic, George’s breathing difficulties were caused by the Beddington incineratior, not by traffic pollution.

    Residents of West Croydon, Central Croydon, Broad Green, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Waddon and Beddington are now subjected to a slow-acting but potentially lethal double-whammy, comprising of the combined cocktail of NEW Incinerator emmisions, PLUS the diesel and petrol derived emissions from the main raids of the area. If they live in the area for a long time, it sadly might mean a shorter life, impacted sooner or later by breathing problems.

    George mentions the existence of temperature inversions, where the fumes and smoke will not go up, but come down. He is completely correct. Aged 9 or 10, I read about this in my “Ladybird Book of the Weather”. But I don’t recall reading anything about the issue in anything I have ever seen about the impact of the Beddington incinerator-to-be over the last 10 years. Had the experts (whether paid for by the developers of the councils) never had the good fortune to read that seminal climatic classic?

    Over the last decade, until very recently, the attention of the media has concentrated on CO2 emmisions, which most scientists free to speak the truth beleive to be the main cause of current global warming.

    I therefore welcome the refocus or additional focus on the other pollutants which have much more immediate effect on breathing and children’s growth.

    The new incinerator at Beddington was not meant to be like those old nasty smelly incinerators of the past….. a lot of PR time has been invested to state that the new one would be much, much better.

    Sadly, the evidence of my nostrils and lungs, on a recent Sunday lunchtime visit to central Croydon, when the strong wind was blowing from Beddington towards central Croydon, was that the fug of burning plastic which caused me to wheeze and feel sick for around 20 minutes (I escaped— but what about those who live and work here?) , is exactly the same as that I experienced on two recent occasions when driving past the Maidstone incinerator in Kent, when the car filled up with the fumes of burning plastic and other fumes blowing down on to the motorway from the nearby smokestack of the Aylesford Incinerator, just after dark, which smelled just like smell often to be experienced in the air of New Cross and Deptford ever since the opening of the Selchip Incinerator. A smoking gun? or 3 smoking chimneys?

    I was gutted at the total absence of interest by the BBC and newspapers about the Beddington incinerator in the years when it was being debated. Why should they have shown no intrestest then, but are showing belated interest in air pollution now?. Oh well, better late than never!

    The only way forward as I see it, for the air quality and health of North,West and South West Croydon, is for the decision makers to abandon the worthy but naive mantra of “London must get rid of all its waste within its own borders”. Yes, we need to recycle as much as we can (and that means the supermarkets and product makers getting rid of unrecycleable plastic) –which can be done in London, but if we need to burn any residuals, these should be rail freighted out of the capital and burned as far from major population centres as possible.

    I have to say, that initially, while not supporting the incinerator, I could understand why it was considered by the boroughs to be the alternative to most landfill. It is a neat, easy solution. But when I looked into this more, I became an objector. How many years did the various local boroughs have to devise an altenative to the gradually-filling Beddington landfill ? Decades.

    The key thing now is for the Government and Mayor of London to take responsibility for facilitating a change from burning to total recycling, and legislating for waste minimisation and avoidance — above all, banning all the unrecyclable packaging that the designers of packaging are still designing, and the suprmarkets still using. Black plastic food trays that the laser rubbish sorters can’t identify, mixed metal foil and plastic film packing, polystyrene, etc etc.

    I hope that the 4 boroughs of the SW waste partnership are now investing time into looking into a an incineration-free future. They have about 10 years to work out how to do it. Then 15 years to build it.

    For Croydon itself, even if the borough withdrew from the SW London Waste parnership, the incinerator would still be there, right on the Croydon border, on a bit of land that for most residents of the 3 other boroughs is out of sight and mind, and is as far away from Sutton, Merton and Kingston as it is possible to be.

    And how soon will Beddington be welcoming the rubbish of Surrey too?

    We clearly need economic activity to provide jobs . It is the responsibility of Government to minimise all forms of pollution while providing a climate for jobs. We all know that the two are not incompatible. So — politicians need to act across party-political lines to save the planet and provide employment.

  6. I took some liberties with this article to focus on air pollution, probably the biggest threat to public health in London. However that does not mean that considering charging residents £300 a year to street park is not a total rip off! If this council ever allowed this it would mean a complete abandonment of something that was a principle of socialism, I.e ‘to each according to his needs and from each according to his means’.
    People who need to use on-street parking are those living in rented and lower cost housing, not those with spacious gardens and garages. Such a move would amount to regressive taxation. Successive responders have pointed out that tripling the price of residents permits has no relationship to pollution.
    Shame on whoever thought this one up.

  7. Jonathan Law says:

    If we are concerned genuinely with air quality in the borough, then we should look at planting young trees that will consume CO2 and create Oxygen . Many areas swap out older trees that no longer do this efficiently for new saplings. However air quality must also be affected by the amount of demolition going on, and all the construction work to build all the apartments that will be sold to “overseas investors/money launderers” which may never see occupancy.
    I agree with the comments of reduction of bus services adding to the transport woes.
    Also maybe look at the appalling removal of late night train services out of London back to Croydon (Victoria station is all but shut by 11.30) as another reason people are needing to use cars more.

    • “Many areas swap out older trees that no longer do this efficiently for new saplings.”…perhaps they ought to be given raised residential parking fees?
      To be serious, along the lines of government deceptions:

      33m polluting cars still on EU roads after Dieselgate scandal
      Analysis of EU commission figures found diesel cars clean up going at ‘snail’s pace’

      More than three quarters of the 43m cars tampered with in the Dieselgate emissions test cheating scandal are still on the road four years later.

      It will probably take another two years to recall the remaining 33m vehicles that were tampered with, according to analysis of unpublicised European commission figures which was released last week.
      “It’s time for governments to get tough and order mandatory recalls across the EU. This does not require any new laws, just political will.”

      In the UK, while 75% of Volkswagen (VW) EA189 engines at the heart of the Dieselgate scandal have been reclaimed, no data for recalls of any other affected engines – including two Jaguar models found to be breaching pollution limits in March – has been submitted to Brussels.

      “The EU single market fails when it comes to car emissions,It only works for selling cars, but not for recalling them when things go wrong.”

      Under current single market rules, national type-approval authorities are responsible for recalling faulty vehicles. This can create a problem if a car was, for example, approved in Luxembourg before being marketed in France and then sold in Romania.

      Where are Croydon MPs on this one, why isn’t Croydon Council targeting this?

  8. Lewis White says:

    You are so right about the benefits of planting trees to improving air quality, removing pollutants and cooling down urban streets (and adding beauty!).

    Sadly, it is not possible to plant up many streets as the ground under the footways is full of services — gas, telecom, cable, fibre, electricity and water. As a Landscape architect who has been involved in tree planting in the past, I have been privileged to add trees in several parts of London. Most have survived, but finding sites in many streets is difficult, sometimes impossible, due to the number of service pipes and cables.

    I would like to note with thanks to the Council that Croydon is curently investing in many new street trees in all parts of the Borough. Hats off to Croydon Councillors who agreed the funding, and indeed to the dedicated officers who are designing the tree planting projects and getting them planted.

  9. bikesyuk says:

    I’m still waiting to see what the £20million cycling investment announced in January 2018 is going to do. That’s where your air quality improvements can be made, but unfortunately it looks like nothing substantial has been done.

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