Our transport correspondent, JEREMY CLACKSON, on the belated end to a free parking wheeze in a kids’ playground
It has taken Tory Mayor Jason Perry nearly two whole months to get around to issuing parking tickets on cars parked illegally in a public park and kids’ playground just a few steps from the Town Hall and council offices.
Pro-pollution Perry has a well-deserved reputation for bending over backwards in the interests of motorists.
So while, earlier this year, the piss-poor Mayor was quick to make it more difficult for a charity to feed the homeless at its nightly soup kitchen in Queen’s Gardens, Perry has been ponderous when it came to any enforcement action against the flashy sports cars and other vehicles that have been parking on what’s supposed to be a pedestrianised zone between the residential blocks built where Taberner House once stood.
The residential towers have been occupied since 2021 – almost a decade since the council moved out of its Taberner House offices.
The free parking on the walkways has been getting worse over the summer, with vehicles often nose-to-tail on either side of the walkways at all hours of the day and night.
It never appeared to have occurred to anyone in the council planning department that allowing easy access to hard-standing in the town centre might be so readily abused by arrogant and entitled car drivers. While emergency service vehicles need ready access to the blocks, no one at the council ever thought of installing removable bollards to prevent unauthorised access.
And it was not until August 10 that anyone in council director Steve Iles’s roads department – “sustainable communities, regeneration and economic recovery directorate” – got round to issuing an order restricting parking on the pathways in Queen’s Gardens – a regulatory restriction which ought to have been in place two years ago.
That order finally came into force on September 1, but it was not until yesterday – 13 days later – that any of the offending vehicles had a penalty notice slapped on their well-polished windscreens.
Residents had been complaining about the dangerous situation – with children having to dodge through the parked and parking cars; there is even a pre-school nursery on the site – since the start of the summer.
But ponderous Perry had his Mayoral hand brake on.
What made the situation all the more galling for those living in the flats in Bloom House, Malcolm Wicks House, Chorus Apartments and “The Fold” (yeah…) is that they are specifically barred by the council from having any residents’ parking permits because the properties were sold or rented on the basis of… ahem… “no on-site parking”.
By mid-August, residents were complaining publicly.
One tweeted that they had contacted Mayor Perry in July when he “assured me it was being dealt with – but it looks like it’s getting worse”.
Another asked, quite reasonably, “Why aren’t they being fined? Why aren’t entrances blocked?
“Children play in Queen’s Gardens, it shouldn’t be used as a car park.”
Once the council’s enforcement notice was published, a consultation period was allowed to run until the end of August, although Inside Croydon understands that Fairfield ward councillors were not advised of the process in advance, as might be expected.
Despite this, one incensed resident asked: “Surely the council can fine those cars today?
“They’re parking on public realm with no parking bays or designated parking.”
Another resident said, “It’s got worse day by day over several weeks.
“It’s absolutely insulting to me who can’t get a permit as a Croydon resident due to living on this development! I pay 120 quid a month to park down Wandle Road.”
Mayor Perry had barely got out of first gear when, on August 18, he tweeted, “This space is part of The Queen’s Gardens and it is not a car park.
“We have given public notice of a proposed traffic management order which, once in place, will allow us to take action against parking on the forecourt of the residential blocks next to The Queen’s Gardens.”
So no rush, then…
Earlier this week, residents again highlighted the Mayor’s ineffectual and slow response to a serious issue on their doorsteps.
“September 12 – so 11 days after the parking suspension,” they tweeted at the council and Croydon’s part-time Mayor, tagging Inside Croydon for good measure, perhaps in the hope it might nudge someone, anyone, into getting something done.
“Still no improvement and Queen’s Gardens Square still full of cars parked daily.
“When are you starting to issue tickets and remove cars?”
An answer, of sorts, finally came yesterday.
Mayor Perry, the motorists’ friend, sought to claim the credit for the council finally taking enforcement action, weeks after desperate residents had appealled to him.
“Listening to concerns about parking in The Queen’s Gardens and following the publication of a traffic notice today we issued motorists illegally parked with PCNs.
“Some motorists were warned but chose to ignore notes. Now we can ensure the park and playground stays safe for everyone.” Which they had not been for the many weeks while the Mayor failed to act.
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