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



25 thoughts on “Parking: Nervous?”

  1. wansteadium showing its true bias here.

    Any questions re the benefit of residents in terms of reduced pollution and safety?
    Any questions re how the streets on the border who appear to be unanimous in desire to have to extended to their roads?
    Any understanding that it will cost money, and will make it hard for the minority that park on the high st but benefit the majority who arrive by other means?
    Any question on the point that nobody has a right to park for free where they like?
    Any question re the idea that many people without cars (unlike me) pay for the roads and parking out of general taxation from which they see little benefit? (A slap around the face with a parking permit for the first person who incorrectly mentions road tax which just about covers motorway costs)

  2. Not factually correct… Some of us in Wanstead already pay for parking outside of our houses and have done for many many years.

    As said many times on here, if it is good enough for us then it is good enough for the rest of us.

    One Wanstead!

    1. when it comes to parking each part of Wanstead has differing issues (including no issues), so its not one size fits all and its not ‘one Wanstead!’.

    2. You repeatedly fail to mention the historic context of the few you keep on referring to who have been paying for parking (prior to the introduction of this sham scheme) under some kind of unfair burden, that is nonsense. Those are residents who DEMANDED permits for their streets irrespective of what the rest of Wanstead wanted it or not. Speak to local Councillors at the time and they will confirm what I am telling you. Your point has got nothing to do with one Wanstead, forcing upon the rest of Wanstead what a few residents demanded for their specific roads. One Wanstead is respecting everyone’s rights and opinions for their streets and a scheme that reflects accordingly. I don’t know what works best for your road, you do, and you do NOT know what works best for my road, the residents on my road do. Engaging with all residents and the Council respecting the differing ‘needs’ is the right, proper, fair, and democratic thing to do.

  3. I also have to comment that if anyone from anywhere else somehow stumbled onto this post, they would be shedding tears right now.. tears of laughter..

    Oh, the poor people of Wanstead having to pay £45 a year for a parking permit outside their £1m house and having to pay 35p for friends to pay on the street per day…

    1. Tina, You are missing the point…! The parking permit is a tax on car ownership. It’s so obviously a revenue raising scheme – with scare tactics such as Cross-rail. Aside from the high st for which a minimum wait time would suit most people, local resident parking has been made worse over the years with multi-car ownership per property, kerb drop downs being added – both of which reduce overall capacity, people with vans and campers and other large vehicles, plus the impact of Newham’s parking restrictions. The council literature contains no evidence to support the changes, probably because there is none. Simply creating a blanket tax scheme is not very smart. If the permit was free to residents that would at least reduce the non resident parking, but people will still have 2 cars, big vehicles and kerb drop downs even if a charge isn’t made. AND then there’s the forthcoming additional costs from the Mayor’s air quality restrictions with their arbitrary and convenient north circular road boundary is another unfair tax – some will be able to afford it but not all. Not everyone drives 15k miles in a smog monster!

  4. Interesting comments. It seems to me that the manner in which Redbridge have instigated and communicated changes is the focus of the above, rather than the changes themselves.

    1. Does it? It looks like a whinge about paying for something to me and entirely about how it will affect the poor wansteadium editor than how it might benefit the majority who don’t drive to the high st.

      There is of course the usual..what about the businesses line? Most other places that have shops in London have parking restrictions, the good places still thrive.

      On rare occasions I drive to the high st I recognise it is the least efficient, most polluting and most dangerous option. Paying fir the privelidge is entirely reasonable.

      1. I’d like to clarify that I am firmly on the side of two (pedal-powered) wheels good, four wheels less good, one wheel just plain showing off.

        However – it’s the Friday before a major change and I haven’t noticed any fanfare or general advice to residents who don’t live on an affected road (yet) from Redbridge.

      2. With the greatest respect, Me, you know nothing at all about Wansteadium’s walking/driving/cycling habits.

        Our letter makes it clear that opinions are divided on the subject. But if you detect a bias in favour of clear information and due process, and against carelessly damaging the health of the High Street businesses, then Wansteadium is probably guilty on those counts.

        1. What would you say your priorioty are for th following:

          Due Process
          Health of local businesses
          Health of local residents

          1 and 2 seem to be at the forefront. No mention of 3 I can see?

          Ideally I’d like proper due process. But it is a council so I have little faith. However I’d forgo than 1,000,000 times over in favour of the health and planning for the majority who don’t drive to the high st. Cars and parking are the worst aspect of using the high st if you are one of the majority who don’t drive there. People have been killed there. So forgive me if I care little about the shortcomings in the run-up, I think it is better than the no mention of the positives from any of your stories that I can remember. The best you do is say it is ‘mixed’. Then go on a whinge fest about it. Please point me in the direction of any of your stories that promote the benefit of the scheme that isn’t contained in the comments only?

        2. But it was Wansteadium which chose to suggest that Warren Road and Overton Drive should be excluded from the parking scheme – hardly unbiased or for that matter informed?? Despite acknowledgement that some are actually in favour of parking controls Wansteadium hasn’t quite succeeded in disguising its general opposition to the parking restrictions.

          I made a FOI request to LBR re. the exclusion of Overton Drive from the second and final parking control plans and Overton Drive’s exclusion from the consultation. Redbridge’s response was that the exclusion of Overton drive was following consultation and various meetings. As there was no consultation the response was “factually incorrect”.

  5. Thank you so much Wansteadium for your open letter. The council has not listened to we residents of Hermon Hill so thank you for keeping our issue in the agenda.

    Well done

  6. The Clue is with regards to this obscured date Monday 19th February !! Why not waiting till the New Financial tax year as any responsible local government would do ..,, certainly in the wake of a fore coming election… the council is obviously impoverished and must audit quickly or the person in charged … or they will not get the amount they are been expecting by central government . the golden egg lays firmly in grabbing quick revenue from Wanstead terrified People of getting a Parking fee on Monday 19th .

    1. You most certainly are correct on the timing but the questuon is do the measures resolve a problem?
      For residents to gain access to park outside their properties: it would seem that nigh on 80p per week is not too high a price to pay.

  7. There is a clear need for transparency on the impact these additional parking restrictions will have on funeral services in the area. Aggressive ticketing of funeral vehicles is a public disgrace and should be suspended to show respect for the living and the dead, something which is sadly lacking in public life. The public have a right to know what training and detailed instructions the council have given to traffic wardens. This is important for grace time which all wardens should respect. ‘Aggressive ticketing’ for very minor contraventions was condemned by Eric Pickles in 2014 when he was Minister responsible.
    There is no mention of dropping off and picking up of passengers ‘free time grace period’ that does not require a ‘free ticket’ which is a waste of time and causes more congestion than it’s worth. This benefit is good for shoppers as well as shopkeepers.

  8. Another way of looking at is c. £50,000 every year (guesstimate), forever, to the council for residents to park outside their own properties… and of course it starts at £45, then how much? We have a car, I’m walking distance to the High Street, and cycle or tube into work. I voted against the scheme because parking isn’t that big a problem on my road (speeding down Nightingale is a bigger issue for me).

    I reckon this is at least the third attempt to impose parking restrictions on my road in my time and eventually the demographics have changed in favour of bringing it in (younger families, often two cars), or people like “Me” who seem to want to punish drivers.

    That the consultation was apparently flawed and the interpretation of the results somewhat generous is water under the bridge, restrictions start tomorrow. On the plus side restrictions are (mostly) not on a weekend, but they will affect the high street shops’ weekday trade. They will certainly affect commuters (who ultimately use mas transit, which kind of backfires on “Me”‘s stance on air pollution, unless it”s just a NIMBY thing).

    TBH my wife opened the letter, it got stuck on a pile and I only noticed today the restrictions start Monday. I went online and saw it takes 10 days to get the permits through. Am hoping that their will be a bedding-in phase, otherwise, sorry fellow Wansteadians, I’m afraid I’m going to be one of the first people parking in the unrestricted areas!

  9. I have to have a permit to park outside my house. Fine.

    It means I can always park outside my house. Excellent.

    BUT WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR IT?!! What value do the council add for the £45?

    Send me my permit each year with my council tax bill and get rid of some of the infuriating beaurocracy that we’re paying for.

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