Council under fire on new parking charge plan

Plans by Labour-run Southwark Council to change how much residents are charged for their parking permits have come under fire from local Liberal Democrats.

In their budget this year, Labour councillors voted for new emissions-based charges for parking permits to be introduced from next year.  The Council plans to raise an extra £350,000 over the next two years from the new charges and says the move will encourage residents to switch to vehicles with cleaner engines and reduce air pollution.

Liberal Democrats have criticised the Council plans for their lack of detail or timetable and have called for proper resident consultation before the charges are introduced.  The Labour-run administration has refused to say whether estate parking permits for council tenants will also be included in the move or what the likely charges will be.  The Council intends consulting residents on its plans some time after the summer.

Air quality is a major health issue in Southwark with major road routes into central London passing through the borough.  Jamaica Road in Bermondsey is one of the most polluted roads in Europe due to the daily traffic gridlock.  In London almost 10,000 people die each year of air-quality related illnesses.

The Council has been criticised for doing little to tackle air pollution in Southwark since Labour took control in 2010.  Last month Liberal Democrats highlighted how the Council has failed to take action against buses and minicabs leaving their engines running when parked.  The administration’s cycling plans have also been criticised for not encouraging more residents to use a bike and there is no council strategy to make walking more attractive.

Southwark Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson, Councillor Damian O’Brien said:

“Changing the way the Council charges for its parking permits could have a big impact on some people living in Southwark.  So it’s wrong that Labour councillors have not even mentioned their plans to residents yet.

“Despite agreeing new parking permit charges in February, there is still no detail, no timetable and no plans for resident consultation.  They won’t even tell us whether people parking on estates will be affected.  What have they got to hide?

“It is typical of this Labour council though that they ask residents’ views after they have already decided something.  There is a real danger that people will just see this as a money-making exercise instead of a way of cleaning up Southwark’s air.

“Liberal Democrats are fighting residents’ corner and are calling on the Council to get a move on to ensure residents have their say on the cost of their parking permits and making our air cleaner.”