Parking: One week on, how’s it going?

It’s a week since the introduction of parking restrictions to Wanstead High Street and surrounding streets.

  • Shops on the High Street are guarded about whether there has been an impact. At least one reported the quietest day this year so far, but another has said business has been good. Anecdotally, the turnover of cars parking for a few minutes on the High Street seems to have significantly increased – which if true would be widely welcomed.

  • The council has voted to cut the cost of the £45 residents’ parking permit to £20. This is welcome – especially since in at least one neighbouring borough, a single car permit is given to residents for nothing.

  • While there have been parking tickets in evidence, there have also been a number of warning notices for cars parked incorrectly.

  • Donna Mizzi, one of the WeWantSay group, says: “Bear a thought for the elderly infirm or slightly immobile people who now can’t park at Wanstead Library – not even to obtain assistance in filling in a tricky online Blue Badge form.  Now from Mon-Saturday, Spratt Hall Road is filled with residents’ parking and only parking via the phone. Even the library car park is RingGo only.  Juggling phone and credit cards and trying to hear the instructions is beyond the ability of many slightly disabled people … many of whom don’t own a mobile.”

  • Wansteadium reader Handsai, having received a warning ticket, warns people not to think they can park on the single yellow lines outside the URC at the top of Nightingale Lane, saying: “It is very confusing as these single yellow lines have a different restriction imposed (8.30-6.30) no parking.”
  • Many residents parking streets now seem much clearer of cars during the day, which will be welcomed by householders. Presumably the spaces were being taken by commuters?
  • Purely anecdotally –  but has the reduction in parked cars on Nightingale Lane led to it becoming a bit of a rat run? Some cars seem to be coming down it very fast.
  • The WeWantSay group is not convinced by the changes, and says council documents reveal a projected £700,000 increase in revenue from parking, though acknowledges this would not be raised from Wanstead alone. It is demanding clarification from the council leaders about this money.

  • Wansteadium has failed to get answers to its two key questions about the parking changes – ie. firstly, what are the success measures for the scheme and when will they be judged? And secondly, what monitoring about the impact on Wanstead High Street businesses is planned. If anyone from Redbridge Council wishes to answer these two questions we’d be delighted.

  • Comments on this post will remain open for the foreseeable future for anyone wishing to add comments about their own experiences. We will revisit points raised.

The Nightingale: This really doesn’t look good

After a few months in which it looked like the Nightingale Pub could be saved from closure, it appears the attempt has not succeeded. The pub now has a sign up saying it is closed, and all the furniture appears to have been cleared out from the inside. Many loyal customers will be awaiting the next development keenly.

(More to come…)

Happy P&D-Day, everyone

After years of debates, false starts, U-turns, consultations and planning, today is the day that Pay and Display comes to Wanstead High Street, along with the introduction of residents only parking on many streets.

Time will tell how successful the plan is, but let us hope it can achieve some or all of these outcomes:

  • A healthier and less polluted Wanstead*
  • A reduction in the number of people driving into Wanstead, parking, and using it as an all-day car park to go into London
  • Less congestion at busy times
  • An increase in people walking and cycling
  • An increase in casual shopping trips to Wanstead High Street, greater revenue for shops, and increased prosperity for traders
  • Greater ability for residents to park outside or near their own homes

If those can be achieved, everyone will be happy. Probably.

(*Good point, Me.)

Parking: Nervous?

An open letter to Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council

Dear Councillor Athwal

Sorry to disturb you – especially at what might be for you a bit of nervy time.

Over the next few days and weeks you may be watching what happens in Wanstead with a bit of trepidation. On Monday the most radical parking scheme Wanstead has ever seen starts operation.

As you know:

  • Pay and Display parking is introduced for the first time on Wanstead High Street and surrounding areas, and
  • In most of the middle of Wanstead, residents-only parking restrictions are being introduced, meaning residents now have to pay for the first time to park outside their own houses.
  • At the same time, and not really noticed by many people, the total number of parking spaces available for casual shoppers is being reduced – roads such as Spratt Hall Road are coming under the residents-only restrictions which previously had been available for most of the day to visitors to central Wanstead.

This time last year, this website called loudly on Redbridge Council to do a proper consultation before it went ahead and imposed a parking plan on Wanstead (which you were planning to do). To your personal credit, you accepted that was the right thing to do, and told a public meeting that “residents will not have a parking scheme forced on them if they don’t want to”.

A consultation duly took place, though it was flawed – many people said they were never given the opportunity to take part (campaigners say as many as 2,700 homes were missed out).

Now it would be a mistake to think that there is unified opposition to any change in Wanstead – some roads clearly favour restrictions. And the existing parking restrictions are not perfect. But opinions are very mixed on the wisdom of the Pay and Display.

So it would be understandable if you were nervous as you watch how the scheme works. For you this represents a significant political risk. With local elections coming in just 10 weeks, if things don’t work out well, you may well be held responsible by voters in Wanstead. If it works well, you may be rewarded. The next few days will tell.

Having said all that, we have a few questions we would appreciate answers to (some of which we posed originally in January last year and which weren’t answered).

  • How  will anyone know if this project is a success? What is your measure of success?
  • What studies about the impact on business on our precious High Street are planned?
  • The publicity for the changes has been, to be blunt, woeful. Nobody we know has a clear idea of what the overall picture will be, even if they know how they will be directly affected.
  • Residents were issued with leaflets about 10 days ago telling them they needed permits, which take at least 10 days to be processed. Can you confirm there will be a grace period in which residents will not be fined for parking outside their own homes?
  • When will the finer details of parking restrictions be reviewed? There are some areas highlighted by some readers – eg people living on Hermon Hill who are not eligible for residents permits – who now have nowhere to park. This is a subtle business.
  • Many people suspect this whole scheme is merely about raising revenue for the council. So a Freedom of Information request will be seeking figures for the cost of the whole scheme, and to find out what exactly is happening to the funds raised by parking permits, P&D, and tickets. It would be much better if you could tell us now how much it’s all cost, and what’s going to happen to the revenue.

Thank you for your time – we’ll be in touch!

Best wishes