Transport correspondent JEREMY CLACKSON on an announcement sneaked out deviously late on the Friday evening of a bank holiday weekend, probably in the hope that no one would notice the 25% discount on resident parking permits
The council’s “generous” relaxation of parking restrictions around the borough – which they were ordered to undertake by the government at the start of the coronavirus lockdown – are to be dropped next week. Parking bays will once again require permits, or motorists will have to run the gauntlet of possible covid-19 infection by using roadside parking meters.
Of course, if no one knows about the re-introduction of parking fees, there’s a greater risk of some cars having penalty charge notices slapped on their windscreens – though given the parlous state of the council’s finances, they are going to need an army of traffic wardens patrolling the borough’s streets to rack up enough 60-quid fines.
The council’s press team really put in a shift yesterday (not), managing to issue just before 5pm on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend a press release which the leadership at Fisher’s Folly probably hopes no one will get to see before parking restrictions begin to be reintroduced on Tuesday.
“Parking enforcement across Croydon will be gradually reintroduced from next week,” is the council’s agreed line, though they claim it is being done “to help keep the borough’s roads clear and safe, as lockdown eases”, rather than to try to plug the multi-million-pound black hole in the council’s finances.
Over the past three or four years, the council has generated around £12million per annum from parking permits and charges. And while this money is supposedly ring-fenced and only to be used for road repairs and improvements, there’s little evidence around the borough of pot-holes being filled in or other repairs being undertaken. So there’s more than a suspicion that some of the road income has somehow leached into general funds.
Two months of lockdown will have cost the council around £2million in lost parking revenues, and Croydon appears to be among the first London councils to return to the “old normal” of parking charges. In extremis, and Croydon’s coffers are empty, the odd million here or there all helps.
They are doing this at a helluva rush, too, with pay and display machines reactivated “from the afternoon of Tuesday, May 26”, the council states.
From Monday, June 8, the council says, “parking enforcement across the borough will resume and those parking illegally, or failing to display valid permits or parking tickets, risk being issued with a fine”. Kerching!!
Relaxed restrictions for blue badge-holders and key workers registered through their employer will continue until further notice, the council says.
According to the press release which the council hoped no one would see, “The reintroduction of enforcement comes as Croydon’s roads are expected to become busier as more people return to work and some pupils return to school, and will help to ensure routes in Croydon are safe for all road users and those walking and cycling.”
Yep: Croydon Council, with one of the worst networks of cycle lanes in London, still seriously believes that the borough’s roads, when operating “normally”, are safe for pedestrians and cyclists.
Buried near the bottom of the council press release that the council clearly wants as few people as possible to see is an offer of a 25 per cent discount on resident parking permit fees. Of course, only those who apply for the discount will be able to claim it, and to do that, you need to know about it first. The council claims that it is “now contacting all drivers with a permit expiring between Monday March 23 and Tuesday June 30 to inform them they can apply to renew their permit”.
They say, “The council has introduced a new, one-month permit option,” which is to help those residents whose income has taken a hit during the lockdown and cannot afford a full annual renewal. “Drivers applying for a renewed 12-month permit will receive up to three free months in addition to the 12 they pay for to cover valid permits they held while restrictions were lifted.”
Although the council says that this is “to help residents whose finances may have been impacted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic”, they say nothing about similar discounts for those residents whose permits expire at other times of the year and who also paid for a period when they didn’t need the permit.
Drivers seeking new permits for diesel vehicles registered before September 2015 will have to pay a surcharge of between £16 and £50, depending on the duration of the permit.
And if your permit is about to expire, it might be advisable to get your application for a renewal super promptly: according to the council’s £220,000 per year chief executive, Jo Negrini, Fisher’s Folly, the council hot-desking headquarters, is fit to accommodate only about one-fifth of the council’s current workforce. So turn-round times on processing parking permit applications might not be as prompt as you might expect.
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