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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Westminster Proposes 20 MPH Limit Everywhere

The City of Westminster is proposing to implement a 20 MPH speed limit on all its roads. The only exception will be those roads they do not control which are TfL controlled roads and where TfL may impose such a limit anyway. This move is despite the fact that a report published by the Department of Transport shows there is no road safety benefit in signed-only 20 MPH limits and there is also no evidence of any other benefits.

Readers should oppose this move, which is in essence a waste of money that would be better spent on other measures, by responding to the public consultation here: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/20mph

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Pelican Crossing at the War Memorial Junction in Chislehurst – Council Decision

As mentioned in a previous blog post (see https://tinyurl.com/y56v2rty ) a petition signed by over 3000 people was submitted to Bromley Council for a Pelican crossing to be installed on the War Memorial Junction in Chislehurst. The previous blog post gives a full analysis of why it was not necessarily a good idea.

Tonight the full Council met to consider the petition. Chris Wells who promoted the petition was allowed to speak for 5 minutes but clearly did not convince Councillors to change their minds. He reiterated his past arguments on the need for a pedestrian crossing phase. A resolution was passed by a very large majority of Councillors to let the previous response from the Council stand. In addition a motion from Councillor Dunn to require the Environment Portfolio holder to submit a proposal within 6 months was also defeated.

Councillor Huntington-Thresher who holds that position explained that the junction had been the subject of several studies but most were unable to be progressed due to the restrictions on land usage imposed by the Chislehurst Commons Trustees. However, they will continue to look at the junction but no immediate change is proposed.

He stated they had modelled traffic flows at the junction (which Chris Wells claimed had not been done) and if a pedestrian phase was added the traffic queues could triple in length. [Comment: that would certainly be a major annoyance to many people as they could stretch for much more than a mile and would also generate a lot of “rat-running” down side roads which was a concern for road safety]. Councillor Huntington-Thresher said we need a “holistic” solution.

He also stated that despite the claims of road safety danger, the relevant section of the A222 was actually only the 40th most dangerous in the borough. There was no trend in accidents and there were no injury accidents in 2018. In other words, resources might be better spent elsewhere to improve road safety. He also said it was not necessarily possible to submit a proposal within 6 months so opposed Mr Dunn’s motion.

Councillor Katy Boughey who represents the Chislehurst Ward spoke in support of the aforementioned response and said that they were actively working with all relevant parties to find a solution. Council Leader Colin Smith seconded the motion to make no change to the previous response and referred to regrettable “excitable hysteria” on Twitter on the subject.

The above is a brief summary of the meeting to debate on this subject. Let us hope that those who support Mr Wells actually listen to reason and engage with councillors, council staff and other local stakeholders to develop a good solution to improve this junction. Any solution needs to take into account road safety issues, traffic congestion problems and the interests of both pedestrians and road users. Any criticism of councillors or council staff would be misguided. You don’t solve road safety and traffic management issues by emotive hysteria.

I hope the above is a reasonably accurate note of what happened but anyone else who was there can correct me or add further comments if required.

Roger Lawson

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Making Congestion and Air Pollution Worse

Hackney - West India Dock Road

The actions of the Mayor of London and such organisations as Extinction Rebellion are creating an environmental nightmare. In other words, they are creating the opposite of what they claim to be tackling.

As I write this Extinction Rebellion are blocking roads in central London and plan to continue doing so for the next two weeks. This group is effectively a terrorist organisation and falls into the UK definition of such – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_terrorism#United_Kingdom

Why do the police do nothing? They claim they need more powers to act against peaceful demonstrations but when the demonstrators block roads and threaten lives (as they are doing by restricting access to St. Thomas Hospital and hampering emergency service vehicles over a wide area) then the police have enough powers already. The Government could also proscribe them as a terrorist organisation. I suggest readers write to their Member of Parliament and urge some Government action.

The actions of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London in implementing a Transport Strategy that aims to reduce car use is very much the same as that tried in Paris, i.e. reduction in road space and slowing traffic in favour of cycling, walking and public transport. An article in the New York Times indicates just how counter-productive this has been. The Mayor of Paris’s policies have resulted in fewer cars but more congestion and air pollution is still a problem. See the article here for more information: https://tinyurl.com/y6d6mw4z

One example of how London’s Mayor is making the road network worse, slowing traffic and increasing congestion is his plan for a “Cycleway” between Hackney and the Isle of Dogs – see our previous article on it here: https://tinyurl.com/y6fxezmq . Transport for London (TfL) have now published the results of their public consultation on this scheme. They got 1,873 responses to the consultation after sending out 25,417 letters and 350,000 emails. How did they get such a large email contact list? We don’t know but the ABD has submitted an FOI Act request to find out.

From the responses they got 419 people expressing concerns about the congestion the plans would cause and many people specifically complained about the closure of Grove Road to most vehicles during most of the day. They have a least deferred a decision on that part of the scheme and also have yet to indicate how they will overcome the abandonment of the Rotherhithe cycling/pedestrian bridge which was to be part of the plan. There were many detail objections to aspects of the scheme but TfL have made very few changes.

This also looks like another consultation biased by numerous cycling pressure groups. You can see why by reading the consultation report here: https://tinyurl.com/y4txpvwc . Photo above is from the report, as usual a very unrealistic impression of what it might look like in reality.

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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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Number Plate Cloning – A Growing Problem in London

The Sun newspaper have reported that number plate cloning is a growing problem – particularly in London. Hackney reported 1,160 examples in the past 12 months while Haringey had 842 cases.

The use of cloned plates was supposed to have been stopped by legislation that prevented the manufacture of plates without evidence of vehicles ownership such as the registration document, but that legislation seems to be often ignored.

People clone plates to avoid parking and speeding fines, and to avoid paying for car insurance. But it creates enormous problems for those whose vehicles have been cloned to get the fines issued overturned.

More information here: https://tinyurl.com/y2m6uxqf

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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