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!