Lambeth Council Should Not Introduce More Controlled Parking Zones (Pay to park)

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This letter is to the council. It is long but encompasses a range of points from residents, do take a read and sign if you agree with any of these points.

Proposal to Introduce Controlled Parking Zones in Streatham 

I am writing this letter to express my objections to your proposal of implementing controlled parking zones (CPZs) in the Streatham area. 

It is unfair and disproportionate for the council to pay for its shortfall in local government funds by penalising residents who own vehicles. The council is using CPZs as a revenue raiser for the Borough, which will have a detrimental effect on the area and its residents; as I outline below. You will note that I am not just raising concerns but also putting forward suggestions for alternative approaches:

By introducing CPZs the council is encouraging gentrification of the area, meaning as a result, the Labour council will be hitting those worst off and the poorest in our society; unable to pay rising costs imposed on them, there will be increasing pressure on poorer households to move out of the borough to find affordable accommodation. and be forced to move out of their home. It is well known that the cost of living is high and wages are low due to freezes in public sector pay, (with the Borough having significant employment in the sector),and the financial crisis of 2008.  “There are an estimated 49,000 people in poverty in Lambeth before housing costs, and 87,000 people in poverty after housing costs. A third of working age people and a quarter of people of retirement age in Lambeth are living in poverty”. This along with upcoming uncertainty due to Brexit, shows the Borough should not be imposing another cost on residents.

Livelihood & Cost
By adding yet another “driver tax”, many of those on the lowest incomes who rely on their vehicle for day to day life will be forced into increased amounts of debt. 

The prices the council is charging for a CPZ permit are extortionate. If this exercise is simply to stop commuters parking then there is no reason for the charges to be as high as proposed. There are estates in the borough that charge £30 for the residents to park for an entire year no matter what type of vehicle you own. Why should the local council (who are meant to be looking after our Borough and welfare) be charging more than that? Putting residents under financial strain for business purposes is not an appropriate manifestation of the councils “Duty of Care”.

As a resident, you have no security when purchasing these permits; there is no contract/cap in place between the council and the buyer around the price they can expect to pay in the future for a parking permit, and nothing to stop the council from hiking up the price of a permit as and when it chooses. This is not encouraging or reassuring to residents, and exacerbates general distrust between the public and government.

One of the biggest problems with this proposal is that many people will end up paying for parking and still be unable to get a parking space outside or near their house due to the amount of vehicles on the roads. Is the council proposing to reimburse those who are frequently unable to get a space on a pro-rata basis to compensate for this? 

Practicalities - An Example
Two roads, are currently heavily congested with vehicles. There are neighbours with multiple cars for business and some who have driveways, which leave many one vehicle households unable to find parking. 

If a CPZ was implemented now, it would not make any difference to the ability to park outside your house for a few reasons;
Those with multiple vehicles would have permits for those vehicles and still park their cars, therefore, not making any additional parking space for residents.
Secondly the parking problems are generally in the evening and not the day, which is when the CPZ would not be enforced. 
Additionally, those residents who are unable to have drives because of financial reasons or reasons imposed by the council (such as the curb/pavement being too short) would be the ones worse of as they would be forced to have to pay with no guarantee of parking.

Lambeth council are currently expanding Woodmansterne School, which will result in an increased amount of Teachers parking in the area. There are two issues with this:
Firstly you are offering Teachers discounted permit rates, meaning they will be able to purchase permits in residential areas other than their own at a discounted rate, leading to less parking for residents and adding to the “commuter parking” problem.
Additionally, when expanding the School the site will be providing 40 spaces for over 200 staff; there is concern about where the additional staff who drive will park? This will only add to the problem, and will not solve it.

Streatham High Road has been under financial strain for a while and we have been consistently and frequently trying to encourage people to shop on the High Street and “Save the High Street”. By imposing CPZs it will lead to a decrease in trade for local retailers as many people will not access them without the option to park and shop. Unfortunately, Streatham is not Brixton or Tooting and does not have nearby tube stations which make it easier for people to shop and encourages the public to leave their vehicles at home as sometimes it may be quicker, easier and cheaper to use the tube. It would be a shame to see the local high street and businesses suffer as a result of CPZs being introduced.

Environment & Sustainability

Implementing a CPZ in parts of Streatham will then impact other roads, as there will be an overflow of cars moving to the next road where they can obtain free parking. If part of this problem is commuter parking, then surely we need to look at the local infrastructure and public transport options, we also need to assess why it is that commuters feel the need to park and try to change the behaviour. Otherwise are we not just penalising local residents because of those who choose to commute to their place of work or a close destination by car? Are the public transport options not good or frequent enough; are certain areas unable to access good transport links? If we encourage the use of public transport through improvements and culture change, we in turn will tie in with the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Strategy. 

The nature of driving and cars is changing; with the increased focus on improving air quality and the decline in fuel driven vehicles, national government will soon see a decline in revenue from fuel duty. This will most likely impact on local government, with decreased allocated funds resulting in less money to spend on the local area and local services.

In 2010, fuel duty receipt brought in £27 billion of revenue which is 1.8% of GDP; in 2016 this had gone down to 1.5% of GDP. 
In 2019 the Local Authority Clean Air Zones come into effect, in 2020 it is projected that 5% of new car sales are fully electric.
By 2021 it is forecasted that electric/hybrid sales will overtake sales of new diesels, and by 2023 (in just 5 years), fuel duty receipts are estimated to dip below 1.0% of GDP (if freeze on rates is maintained). The council needs to be on the front foot of this.

By implementing CPZs the council is encouraging the decline of vehicles resulting in a quicker loss of revenue from fuel duty as people decide not to have cars. The council also needs to be mindful that due to the forecast increase in electric vehicles, their proposed parking controls will need to be reformed in the near future to support this new generation of vehicles. It is likely that people will need to pay for a space directly outside their house in order to connect their vehicle to be charged, or that there will be a need for spaces close to your house which have electric vehicle charging points.

From the above, I am sure you can see that different areas and roads have different needs, and that there are many negative potential impacts for you proposal of a blanket policy of a CPZs for the entire Streatham area. This is not by any means a solution to the root cause of the problem. I understand the concern around parking, and it is certainly something I have considered raising with the council before; I have even considered whether a CPZ would be beneficial to solve the problem, but unfortunately on reflection there are more negatives than positives to this proposal. If we want to solve the issues around parking, we need to look at more innovative ways to solve parking problems, especially in this new technology driven economy.

We need to work together more as a community to solve these issues and come up with new initiatives to combat this problem. Often in the workplace, people come up with solutions to common problems around hot-desking etc. and I think we can use similar strategies in our local community to help each other out. This will help come to solutions combining those who have different stances, such as; those who want to protect the environment and encourage front gardens instead of driveways; those who are severely impacted by commuter parking due to close proximity to the high road; those who are unable to find parking in the evenings, and those families who rely on more than one car for their household.

If commuter parking is a problem, why don’t we look into ways in which we can lessen this?

We could have car share schemes in which commuters share a journey to a destination or residential area/road swaps, where people commuting to different parts of the area can identify themselves and “swap” parking spaces during working hours. 
There are options to provide incentives for more people who use public transport, or rewards for those who already do; such as vouchers which can be used and redeemed in the local area.

If the problems are around households having too many vehicles, we could look at;

a requirement to have a permit on your second vehicle, or helping more people to have the option of a driveway, by extending the kerb or driveways which can fit multiple vehicles.

The council should be looking into the reasons why these issues emerge and encourage people to work together to solve them, helping to make our community better for us all rather than looking at money grabbing exercises which are of limited benefit to residents and business in the area.

Thank you for reading this letter, I hope you can take these suggestions on board as I believe Streatham has the opportunity to trail-blaze in this area.