Welcome u-turn from Labour on 1-hour free parking in Coulsdon Town
31/01/2017 16:50:00......Posted by Mario Creatura
At last night's Council meeting, Cllr Stuart King, Labour Cabinet Member in charge of Transport, announced a very welcome u-turn to restore 1-hour free parking in district centres.
A year ago when Labour first announced they were cutting the free parking I asked a written question about their reasoning. This was batted away by Cllr Kathy Bee (Cllr King's predecessor).
I cited the Labour local election manifesto from 2014 where they said:
'To support our local economies, our district centres will offer free parking for the first hour. This will not only make shopping easier for residents but will also support our local traders in difficult times.' These words can be found on page 15 of Labour's 'Ambitious for Croydon' manifesto.
You can read Cllr Bee's response online.
I, along with other elected representatives for Coulsdon, publicly called on Cllr Bee not to proceed with this damaging policy and to listen to residents. Cllr King chose to ignore this warning and with all Labour councillors that night refused to change their minds despite huge opposition and voted to scrap free parking in district centres - just like Coulsdon.
We collected over 1,000 signatures with local businesses, Residents' Associations and residents writing to the Council to beg them to reconsider an action they believed would harm the local community. When Cllr Bee was sacked and replaced with Cllr King, we wrote to him again, pleading with him to listen to the unified voice of Coulsdon. He refused to listen to all of us, siding with Cllr Bee's earlier comments that there was evidence reducing the free parking would benefit local businesses.
A whole year has passed. A year in which businesses have suffered and closed. A year in which residents have been inconvenienced by an ill-thought out and badly designed policy. A year after Labour refused to listen to councillors, Residents' Associations and residents. A year of wholly unnecessary pain for businesses and people in Coulsdon.
What's changed? Has new evidence come to light that car turnover is not encouraged by 30 minutes free parking? I have asked Cllr King to justify his actions and will report back on this blog what he has to say for himself.
This is a welcome u-turn, but had Croydon Labour listened a year ago to all six Coulsdon Councillors, the GLA Member, the Member of Parliament, our excellent Residents' Associations as well as thousands of residents and local businesses - then all the pain caused by this policy could have been avoided.
Quite simply: Labour doesn't listen.
UPDATE 9th February 2017
At Traffic Management Committee last night, I'm told Cllr Stuart King confirmed that the 1-hour free parking in distict centres would cost the Council £155,000 per year to run.
The reason Labour gave for cutting the service was not financial, it was due to the perceived harm to local businesses. If it was financial, and was a cost saving measure by the Council, why not say it a year ago when it was cut? Why mislead the public and the Council?