Croydon is being accused of deliberately suppressing details of its on-going parking consultation from the people most affected: the 9,000-plus residents who already have permits for on-street parking issued by the council each year.
“We’re earning a deserved reputation for being the council that put the ‘con’ into ‘consultation’,” a Town Hall source said this morning.
The council wants to increase the charge for a resident’s parking permit from £80 to, in many cases, as much as £300 per year. Only those wealthy enough to own hybrid or electric cars may benefit from a small discount in their permit fees.
The council is passing this off as a move to reduce vehicle emissions, though many car owners see it as a just another stealth tax. Others have described it as a regressive charge, highlighting that it will hit older residents and the less-well-off hardest.
Critics of the parking charge proposals also highlight how it will be an additional cost for residents, while the council is meanwhile still supporting the £1.4billion Westfield and Hammerson redevelopment, which will provide a 3,000-space car park to encourage people to drive into the town centre, regardless of any emissions that might generate.
The council announced its consultation last month. It closes on June 20.
But the council has so far failed to write to parking permit-holders to invite their views on the proposals in the consultation.
“It’s a blatant attempt to avoid getting input from those most affected by this hike in parking charges,” a Katharine Street source said.
The council has been accused of “rigging” its public consultations before, most notably over the introduction of 20mp zones around the borough. Indeed, after only narrowly achieving public approval in consultations on the first couple of zones, Croydon avoided putting the matter to residents in the same manner in the south of the borough, because of a well-founded fear it would be roundly rejected.
Stuart King is the Labour council’s cabinet member for traffic jams and air pollution, and he has given assurances that letters about the consultation would go out to the borough’s parking permit-holders.
Labour councillors and party members have been in contact with Inside Croydon to express their dislike of the charging proposals, which they think will do little to improve the borough’s air quality but has the potential to be hugely politically damaging among voters.
In 2017-2018, according to the council’s own figures, Croydon issued 9,045 residents’ parking permits. Residents’ and business owners’ parking permits generated £1.34million for the council.
Together with other vehicle-related charges, such as car park fees and penalty notices, the council built up an unspent surplus of £7million that year.
By law, money generated from parking fees is not allowed to go into a local authority’s general funds, but is supposed to be spent only on highways maintenance and other road-related schemes.
The new parking charges, which the council is dressing up as some means of controlling vehicle emissions, will hike some residents’ permit fees by 375 per cent.
Yet with just two weeks of the “public” consultation remaining, permit-holders have not received any direct communication from the council about what might be in store for them, or to seek their views.
“It’s pretty obvious what they are playing at,” said the Town Hall source. “If all 9,000 resident parking permit-holders were to respond to the consultation, the council would get a message which they really don’t want to hear.”
For the avoidance of any doubt, Croydon’s 70 councillors all qualify for at least one parking permit, completely free of charge.
- If you have not received a letter from Croydon Council about the parking consultation, but nevertheless have a point of view that you would like to express, click here to visit the council’s consultation site
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