A consultation is expected next month that will halve the free period allowed on most on-street bays
Croydon motorists will regard ULEZ expansion as a mere picnic once they grasp what Mayor Jason Perry has in store for them over new, money-grabbing parking arrangements around the borough.
The council is looking at proposals which could see the removal of all parking meters, to be replaced by a system where people are only able to use council-run car parks or parking bays if they have their personal details logged with a Town Hall version of Big Brother, and they check in and out with a mobile phone on every occasion that they park their car.
This Orwellian dystopia is already being trialed in South Croydon, and Mayor Perry is promising a public “consultation” next month on borough-wide proposals.
But some residents have got wind of the scheme, and they don’t like it one little bit.
“Whose dreadful idea was this?” one concerned reader said. “What of those who do not have mobile phones? It’s not fair on those who do not have smartphones and do not understand technology.
“Even those who do have smartphones don’t want to use them to be tracked everywhere they go.”
In true 1984-style, the council is trying to characterise its changes – which will have massive implications for what is known as “digital exclusion”, and impact older and poorer residents hardest – as making parking “easier to support local businesses”.
They even claim it will make parking “fairer and more accessible”, when the opposite is likely to be the case.
The proposals were sneaked through quietly at the last council cabinet meeting before the summer break. “Croydon will review the current free short-stay parking arrangements, to make it as easy as possible for people to pop to their local shops in their neighbourhoods and on high streets,” according to the council’s own version of the Ministry of Truth. Expect the Town Hall clock to chime 13 any day now…
The council also say that they will “review and modernise parking controls and zones”, which could have far-reaching consequences for thousands of residents.
Iles, Croydon’s director of sustainable communities – the man who imposed Binmageddon on the borough and who paid millions of pounds for American ANPR cameras that don’t work in south London – is taking early retirement at the end of August.
It was Iles who came up with budgets that suggested the cash-strapped council could make £1million per month from parking fees and LTN fines, figures worked out on the back of a fag packet which were soon exposed as being utter fantasy, leaving another hole in Perry’s sieve-like budget.
The new, automated “smart technology” parking system that the council wants to introduce could help to claw back some of the missing millions.
Of course, part-time Perry – who remains a director of his building supplies firm in South Croydon – never mentioned the true objectives when he was quoted about the coming consultation. “Supporting business and the local economy is a priority and I want to make it as easy as possible for residents to pop to their neighbourhood shops, and to visit their local high street.” Oh yeah!
“Making parking a simple, streamlined process is a part of our plans to support local businesses in Croydon and bring shoppers to our high streets and the town centre. Parking shouldn’t be confusing, and it shouldn’t be impossible to find a spot near the shops – these proposals aim to achieve that goal.”
But those who encountered the month-long trial run of Mayor Perry’s scheme on South End and Selsdon Road, which ended last month, complained that the system was anything but “simple”, or “streamlined”, but it is very “confusing”. And it also demanded that all motorists being equipped with an expensive smartphone, whether they can afford one or not.
The council turned off all its “pay and display”, forcing motorists to use a parking app. In return for data-scraping every motorist’s personal details, the council allowed them one free 30-minute parking session every 24 hours.
Similar schemes have also been introduced in other car parks around the borough.
“I cannot now park in these car parks because I will not pay using my phone. I don’t want to have to register my car to use any on-street parking bay – whether it is free or not. It is a dreadful imposition,” according to one reader.
The free half-hour parking is not the generous gesture that piss-poor Perry would have residents believe, either. The previous Labour council introduced one-hour free parking in many parts of the borough.
The proposed changes are “totally unacceptable on the main high streets, where the time limit is one hour and there is no charge to park”, according to another reader, a Conservative Party activist.
“Many often only park for less than 15 minutes, and we certainly do not need to be burdened with having to have a working mobile phone, switch this on, phone some number and register the car for such a short period of parking.
“The rule is no return for two hours – but I have heard that the council may make it a maximum of one stay for up to one hour per day – that is also unacceptable.
“There may be a small number of people who meter-feed, but anyone doing this frequently or for long periods is easy to catch and penalise. There is no reason to penalise the vast mass of the public for what is a very small issue – and one easily tackled as soon as it is known.”
Of course, what pro-pollution Perry has never said when claiming to be on the side of local businesses is that there are absolutely no parking charges whatsoever if you go to the shops on a bicycle, or walk…
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