The controversial £93k parking scheme for Wanstead High Street could be axed after just three months, council leader Jas Athwal has said, “if it makes people’s lives a misery”.
Meanwhile Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer has told council leaders of his concerns about the scheme, saying there does not appear to have been “any attempt” to consult with residents.
In an interview with the Wanstead Guardian, Cllr Athwal said his motivation was improving Wanstead High Street for shoppers and “helping business make money by making sure people can park”. He also wants to help people living near the High Street who can’t park outside their homes because of displaced traffic, he says.
He told the paper:
“The evidence is there to show there are serious problems with parking in Wanstead, but it would be politically foolish of me to do something that just makes everyone angry… When you’re introducing something as controversial as this you need to be flexible…. It could last for 18 months or it could last for three… If it makes people’s lives a misery we will stop it.”
He said the previous parking plan which was withdrawn after public opposition was dropped because the Conservatives, who then ran the council, “wilted under pressure from residents – that is something I will not do”.
Mr Cryer said he had told the council of his concerns, saying: “This seems to me to be an unsatisfactory situation. There does not appear to have been any attempt to conduct a consultation, as one would expect, and I only heard about it when local residents and businesses started getting in touch. The proposals will create all sorts of problems and a number of businesses have expressed fears for their future.”
The parking plan will mean the introduction of pay and display on Wanstead High Street, plus the introduction of residents’ parking zones in more streets near the High Street. The council says the first 30 minutes of high street parking would be free, and that the point of the scheme is to stop people parking there for hours on end.
Opinions on the plan seem to be divided, with vocal opponents on either side. However a petition demanding proper consultation over the plan has now received nearly 1,200 signatories – some online and some on paper.
One commenter to Wansteadium, Argee, has highlighted the Redbridge Parking Strategy which states its first value is “Transparency and Collaboration”. It reads:
We will provide clear information about parking and involve or consult communities in the development of policy and design of local schemes.
Argee comments: “There has been no transparency nor collaboration. I saw no mention of not wilting under pressure from local residents in the Redbridge Parking Strategy, which in my opinion is the opposite of collaboration, yet Cllr Athwal states this as if it is something to be proud of.”