London Councils Making Even More Money From Parking

The RAC Foundation have published some figures on how much local Councils profit from parking. The latest data shows that the profits they make have risen by 7% to £930 million in the last year. The profits in some London boroughs are the highest in the country with Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Camden and Islington all being in the top 7. In fact 12 of the 13 highest profiteers in the country are all in London with only Brighton & Hove being the exception.

Total income received from parking was £1.75 billion with costs incurred were £0.82 billion. Income comes from on-street parking, permit parking schemes, off-street car parks owned or run by Councils and parking enforcement. They are not supposed to make a profit from on-street parking but clearly do in many cases. However they can legally charge what they like for off-street car parks.

Any surplus from on-street parking is supposed to be spent on transport improvements but that is in practice a very broad item and includes expenditure such as supporting concessionary public transport fares, cycle lanes and many other things that have no benefit whatsoever to vehicle users who have paid for the parking. In reality Councils are using parking fees as a slush fund to finance all kinds of projects in some boroughs. Some of the surplus is spent on road maintenance but that has been falling which is why there are more and more potholes on our roads.

It is surely time for national government to intervene to rectify these abuses that are taking place because high parking charges are destroying many High Streets and Town Centres as retailers are already under pressure from the internet.

For more information and to see how your local borough compares the RAC Foundation report is present here: https://tinyurl.com/qm9ypy2

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Sadiq Khan’s Election Manifesto – Have Your Say

The Labour Party are inviting everyone to have their say on Sadiq Khan’s Manifesto for re-election as London Mayor in 2020. You can read about his achievements to date and submit answers to their questions via this web page: https://tinyurl.com/y29yu999 . It is of course a very biased document like all consultations that Mr Khan presides over, but anyone can respond – you don’t need to be a Labour Party member.

Perhaps the Mayor is short of ideas to ensure he gets re-elected. His last big vote winner was freezing public transport fares but after three years of holding the tide back of inflation in King Canute fashion he has managed to dig a deep hole in Transport for London’s finances which simply cannot continue. Bus services are being reduced as a result while traffic congestion increases. His policies on Congestion Charging and the ULEZ will impose higher costs on many Londoners with minimal public health benefit. He has also clearly failed to tackle rising violent crime and not solved London’s housing problem – indeed his only proposal for the latter is to introduce rent controls which would make matters worse.

But he does admit to increasing the Council Tax Precept (what you pay to the Mayor from your local council taxes) to the maximum allowed. No thanks Mr Mayor. All his other claimed achievements are quite trivial in relation to the problems Londoners perceive as key issues.

All the way through the document, the Mayor emphasises that he has limited powers over many aspects and clearly wants more. But it would be very dangerous to give him more.

Here are some of the questions and how you may care to respond to them (I have only covered those questions that are relevant to transport):

Environment and Climate Change:

Question: How do we take the next steps to clean up London’s air and oversee a massive shift from polluting cars to walking, cycling and electric vehicles at the same time?

Answer: concentrate on fixing the vehicles over which you have control and which are major contributors to air pollution, i.e. diesel buses. You also need to tackle air pollution on the Underground. Otherwise any measures should be justified on cost/benefit grounds and scare-mongering over an imaginary public health crisis as the justification for higher taxes should be stopped. The expansion of the ULEZ to the North/South Circular should be halted and the introduction of more Cycling schemes that create more traffic congestion (and hence air pollution) should be halted.

Transport:

Question: How else can Sadiq make London’s transport system affordable and accessible to all Londoners?

Answer: Stop wasting money on schemes with very poor cost/benefits (such as the proposed Rotherhithe bridge and most of the Cycle Superhighways the finance for which has to come out of public transport fares. He needs to stop spending money and imposing taxes on road users to make the transport system more affordable for everyone. That includes halting the investment in 20 MPH speed limit schemes and cycle schemes that have poor cost/benefits. He should also cease support of road-pricing and workplace parking levies.

Question: What are the future major schemes that Sadiq could focus on delivering?

Answer: The Silvertown Tunnel is one which will be a major benefit for east London. Repairing the Hammersmith Bridge is another for West Londoners. Improving major east-west and north-south road routes such as the Embankment rather than degrading them with 20 MPH speed limits and cycle lanes should be another key objective.

Question: What more can be done to promote walking and cycling?

Answer: Some youth elixirs for the elderly and inform would help and concealing the dangers or cycling is another. That is of course just a witty response to a proposal that is unnecessary and has major disbenefits.

Question: When asking for more powers and devolution from Government on transport issues, where should Sadiq focus his energies?

Answer: Give the Mayor powers to introduce policies to reduce the population of London so as to reduce pressure on the transport, housing and public health systems. Specifically redistribution of business and people out of London and powers to reduce immigration and encourage birth control.

He should also argue for a commitment to devolve more powers to local boroughs so as to avoid TfL dictating local borough policies and more funds financed by central Government to be given to local boroughs solely to be used on improving the road network in London. In addition the Mayor should be given the power to set sensible minimum parking standards for new developments (not maximum ones) in London boroughs.

Those are just a few ideas to help Mr Khan, or indeed his opponents, to get elected.

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Croydon Permit Parking Charges – Public Ignored

The London Borough of Croydon has published the responses to their consultation on changes to parking charges that will result in large increases, particularly for certain vehicles. It will mean the permit parking charge for a vehicle emitting more than 225 g/km of CO2 will rise from £80 to £300. There will also be an additional surcharge of 30% for pre-2015 diesel vehicles and it is also proposed to introduce similar increases for Pay & Display parking spaces.

Councillors have decided to push ahead with the proposals despite the fact that of the 148,000 cars registered in Croydon only 9,000 pay for parking permits. So the impact on air pollution in Croydon will be negligible even if some residents respond by changing their vehicles. As most of the air pollution comes from buses, HGVs and LGVs, charging resident car owners in the name of reducing pollution is pointless.

But the Council will make as much as £162,000 in additional permit charges each year which gives you some idea of the motive for this change.

There were 1,149 responses to the public consultation of which 1,039 submitted objections (i.e. 90%) with only 62 responses in support. Some 19% of respondents suggested this was simply a way for the council to generate income, and they were certainly correct on that point. The council’s response to that was to say the parking charges were insufficient to reduce the number of cars on the roads of Croydon.

You can read all the responses to the public consultation and the Council’s report here: https://tinyurl.com/y3o4oby2 . Here’s a summary of one response: “It is a tax on the poor. It’s not fair on those people who cannot afford to buy a new card…. It is another poverty tax…..”.

Comment: This is a typical example of doing a public consultation and then ignoring the result, apart from ignoring the logic and likely impact of the proposal. Regrettably Labour controlled councils such as Croydon often adopt the stance of ignoring the views of the public because Councillors think they know better what is good for you. I hope that those impacted will bear this in mind at the next borough elections.

Roger Lawson

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Lewisham Parking Charges to Increase

The London Borough of Lewisham is proposing to revise it permit parking charges and make other changes to its parking policies. It includes emission-based charges that means owners of diesel vehicles or with larger engines will pay much higher charges.

They are doing this because they claim “air pollution is causing a public health crisis in London…” but that is simply not true. Londoners are living longer than ever. They also claim that introducing such charges will improve air quality when that is not true either – the vast majority of air pollution comes from buses, HGVs and other commercial vehicles, from home heating, offices, industry and other sources – such as blown in from outside the borough.

Charging car owners more will have negligible impact on air pollution in Lewisham but will cause some residents to incur substantial extra costs in paying higher permit charges or the cost of changing their vehicles.

But it will also have no impact on residents who park off-road or on visitors who drive through Lewisham so it’s basically an attack on a small minority of residents in the name of fixing a non-existent health crisis. It’s also probably about raising income from parking but the Council seems unable to disclose the financial impact.

The Council is running a public consultation on the proposals which you can access here: https://lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/parking/permits/parking-policy-consultation . Don’t forget to answer all the personal information questions such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and sources of income so that Lewisham Council can keep all your personal information on file for anyone to hack! I’m joking in that regard of course. Don’t answer them.

Roger Lawson

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Heathrow Airport Expansion, M25 Diversion and HS2

Heathrow Airport has announced a public consultation on its plans to expand by building a third runway. This will require diversion of the M25 into a tunnel over which the new runway will be built.

The western side of the M25 is one of the busiest sections of the national motorway network and has regular congestion at present. The additional traffic generated by the airport expansion plus the construction traffic and the disruption caused by the diversion is surely going to make congestion worse both in the short term and long term.

In addition the additional planes flying in and out of the airport will add to air pollution in the area which is already one of the worse such spots in London. The airport plans “no significant increase in parking at the airport despite the scale of growth” which seems somewhat unrealistic. But they plan to deter people from driving to the airport by introducing a ULEZ charge for most visitors. Effectively folks using vehicles will be targeted as a way to offset the additional emissions from planes.

As regards the general merits of expanding the airport, the ABD has no official stance as there are differing opinions on the subject. But the impact on the M25 and surrounding roads will clearly be negative and should be opposed.

For more information and to respond to the consultation, go here: https://aec.heathrowconsultation.com/

HS2

Boris Johnson, our potential future Prime Minister, is drawing up plans to have an independent review of HS2 which many people oppose. But it is likely to be run by Douglas Oakervee who chaired HS2 between 2012 and 2013. This looks like a future “whitewash” and a sop to those who oppose HS2 on economic and environmental grounds.

Roger Lawson

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The Cost of Khan – 3

The Conservative Group on the Greater London Assembly have produced their latest report on the 3-year record of the Mayor in the “Cost of Khan”. It analyses the performance of Mayor Sadiq Khan in the job. Anyone who thinks he is performing well in the role should read it. For those who think he is performing badly, it provides the evidence.

I’ll focus on a just a few of the issues in this note. Khan’s war on the suburbs with the new “London Plan” is covered where housing density is increased and back gardens are allowed to be built on. It includes proposals to limit car parking provision which shows the Mayor’s lack of awareness and consideration for outer London residents and their needs.

Financial incompetence is highlighted such as over Crossrail, the pay of TfL employees and the ULEZ scheme. The staff in City Hall have gone up from 897 when he became Mayor in 2016 to what will be 1,232 staff in the next financial year. That’s a 37% increase and pay in total has gone up an even more staggering 59%. That’s one reason you are paying more in Council Tax!

Even his record on the environment and air pollution is poor with promises of tree planting not met, and the very high pollution from diesel buses which account for 20% of NO2 emissions is not falling as replacement is slow. The ULEZ scheme will be very expensive to implement and operate and is not likely to have a great impact on air pollution.

In summary, the Mayor is a great expert at blowing his own trumpet by spending large sums on PR and social media. He also spends a lot of time on politics that are outside his remit such as Brexit and the Trump visit. Perhaps he just wants to distract the public from his failings to do his job effectively?

You can read the detail report here:

https://www.glaconservatives.co.uk/cost-of-khan.html

Roger Lawson

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Higher Permit Parking Charges in Croydon, Kingston and Lewisham

We previously covered the increase in permit parking charges in Camden – see https://tinyurl.com/y2tw5kcd . This will particularly affect users of larger vehicles that emit more CO2 and diesel engined vehicles and are described as “Emission Based Parking Charges”.

Now Croydon, Kingston and Lewisham are proposing similar changes. In Croydon it will mean the permit parking charge for a vehicle emitting more than 225 g/km of CO2 will rise from £80 to £300. There will also be an additional surcharge of 30% for pre-2015 diesel vehicles. It is also proposed to introduce similar increases for Pay & Display Parking Spaces. There is more information and a link to the full council report in this Inside Croydon article: https://tinyurl.com/y4pfwj99

The justification is to reduce air pollution and help with climate change when levels of CO2 have no impact on public health whatsoever – if anything higher CO2 levels have benefits for plants and animals. So it’s fundamentally misconceived. There is also no evidence that such charges will have any impact on air pollution as anyone with off-street parking will not be affected, many vehicles that drive on Croydon roads do not park in the borough and most problem emissions such as particulates are from buses, HGVs and LGVs which won’t be affected.

Although the Council has not yet published the impact it will have on money raised by the borough from permit parking charges, it is likely to lead to very substantial increases. Readers are reminded that permit parking charges can not be used as a revenue raising measure. This is well established by previous legal cases (Camden v Cran and in Barnet).

There will be a public consultation on these proposals – Croydon residents are encouraged to respond.

Kingston Council

Very similar proposals are also being put forward by Kingston Council. See https://tinyurl.com/yxdss7do . In Kingston the highest rate will be £350 per annum plus an additional £50 for diesel vehicles (even diesel hybrid ones). Affected residents should submit objections.

These changes are undoubtedly being encouraged by Transport for London (TfL) as part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. But the attempt to improve public health by introducing emission based parking charges is fundamentally misconceived and will not work. It’s all about money as usual with Councils of late.

Roger Lawson

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