Show us this is not just shabby

The first Wansteadium editorial

img_3266In the eight years of this website, we have never taken a political line on any subject, except perhaps the welfare of hedgehogs. There are plenty of issues we care about – a healthy balance of shops in the High Street, for example – but no overtly political positions.

That is until today. We’re breaking with tradition to take a very clear position about the proposals for changes to the parking rules for Wanstead.

Redbridge Council must back down now and do the proper consultation on these proposals which it should have done in the first place.

We know that opinions on the matter among Wansteadium readers are divided, and that there are pros and cons to the proposals. For example, having a mechanism to stop people parking all day long on the High Street while they walk to the Tube to go to Westfield would, in our view, be a good thing. But stopping people parking on roads as far away from the High Street as Overton Drive does not appear to have been thought through.

But regardless of pros and cons, what seems to unite nearly everyone is outrage at the way the proposals are being imposed on Wanstead with no opportunity for debate or consultation. The leader of the council, Cllr Jas Athwal, who has up until now struck us as a fairly decent sort of bloke, seems to be revelling in his outright refusal to consider any form of consultation.

Pretty much the first thing the Labour administration did on taking control of Redbridge Council following the elections in 2014 was to scrap the system of area committees. These were bi-monthly meetings at which residents in Redbridge boroughs could listen to and question their own local councillors and council officers. The committees were replaced with a series of inadequate borough-wide forums at which there is no opportunity for Wanstead residents to question Wanstead councillors or council officers about Wanstead issues.

Previous attempts at parking reform were just the kind of subjects that were discussed at these meetings – and of course people felt strongly about them. Cllr Athwal’s verdict? The “Tories… just wilted under pressure from residents – that is something I will not do”.

But with no meaningful local meetings, no consultation, and no debate, it does make one wonder if Cllr Athwal would be so reckless in an area which had more than just a couple of Labour councillors?

We have just one question for him: what do you have to lose by doing a consultation in the proper manner? The proposals might even be improved by some public debate – after all, the 0930-1030 “residents only” parking restriction in Wanstead streets came as the direct result of a suggestion at an area committee. Wansteadium knows, because we were there when it happened.

Unless Redbridge Council undertakes to do the proper consultation, it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that this scheme is nothing to do with improving parking – it’s simply an easy way to raise cash for the council. For a political party to do that in an area where it doesn’t stand to make significant electoral losses would just be shabby. It’s time to show that that’s not the case.

54 thoughts on “Show us this is not just shabby”

    1. Totally agree. Not against parking control as such, but I am against this trial with no transparency nor collaboration as per the Redbridge Parking Strategy.

    2. It’s a minor, but increasingly regular nuisance that people park in Tennyson Avenue, but this will cost us too much, and especially when guests are here

  1. Agreed. They clearly just want to extort money. I wouldn’t mind if services were increased commensurately, but austerity means services are dropping and taxes (indirect Ones like parking included) are rising. So with all excuses aside, our politicians are failing us and do not represent us.

  2. I could not agree more. This totally smacks of revenue generation as opposed to any possible improvements to the local area. There are no problems with unwanted parking in most of the areas where new parking restrictions are being imposed without any consultation. Democracy????

  3. Hi there

    You may want to correct the typo (“bad” thing rather than good in relation to the Westfield shoppers)

    1. Thanks – but not sure there is a typo there… it says having a mechanism to stop it would be a good thing…

  4. Short sightedness at its best, parking charges on the high means more people will spend their money online as opposed to supporting local businesses, with Amazon et all being the biggest winners.

    As these online companies don’t pay much in the way of taxes that means less revenue for central government and therefore more cuts for councils which leads to more stupid decisions like this.

  5. Well said. If attended the information day at Wanstead Library. If, as we were told, the purpose is to give more visitors the opportunity to park near the shops, why are they stopping the parking outside Wanstead UNited Reformed Church? Moreover, if it is not to raise revenue, how come no one there could give me an estimate of the net cost?

    1. The proposal should have a Cost-Benefit analysis if for no other reason to determine the best approach. How can the initial outlay of £93,000 be justified with no idea of what the potential revenue would be?

      From Redbridge Parking Strategy
      Transparency and Collaboration – We will provide clear information about parking and involve or consult communities in the development of policy and design of local schemes.

      No collaboration, no transparency, therefore no trial.

      1. I agree with the Wansteadium editorial. This scheme shows no consideration for residents whom the council are supposed to represent. Whilst agreeing that some improvements can be made – this blanket approach is most unacceptable. To expect to raise cash from residents in roads such as Grove Park and The Avenue is ludicrous because all these properties have off-road parking. Admittedly other roads such as Cowley and Halstead would indeed benefit from residents parking permits and at the same time raise much needed cash for the council coffers. The last time these proposals were proposed their was some compromise to allow drop off zones for schools such as our Lady of Lourdes and St Josephs. It is very misleading for the council leader to say the Tories “caved in” when in fact they did what elected officials should do and listened to the wishes of residents and businesses most affected. Finally history tells us that elected representatives that go against the wishes of the people will “suffer at the ballot box”.

      2. My FoI elicited info that ‘the predicted income from the scheme’ is [was?] £130k p.a.’ I asked for sight of a proper Business Case, but was told that this was the Parking Strategy ! Strategy it might be; Business Case it certainly isn’t. Unless that is the Council thinks a Business Case is ‘spend 93k: get £130k income p.a.’ written on the back of a fag packet…… (without any consideration of costs to local shops, businesses and others i.e. local people’s inability to use their local facilities; isolation and effective social exclusion for some, etc !

    1. I find Wansteadium very political instead. One example? The xmas trees’ issue last year with wansteadium blaming the council and Labours. It will surprise me if there is someone at wansteadium who isn’t a tory. Anyway nothing wrong with that. Everyone is entitled to a political opinion.

    2. Thank you for your kind words about Wansteadium, we’re glad you appreciate it. We have always made an effort to stay clear of political positions, and having looked back at our coverage of the Christmas tree issue we haven’t found any example where we blamed the Labour Party, though we did of course explain the changes in how discretionary funding was allocated. Anyway, thanks again, it’s good to know you find us useful.

  6. I am in favour of a consultation. But a consultation does not mean putting the scheme to a public vote. A public response should form part of the overall analysis. It should form part of an investigation taking into account the feedback from residents, vested interests and the expert views of planners and traffic management.

    Just because some residents don’t want it, it doesn’t mean that overall it shouldn’t necessarily happen.

    We need fewer trips to the high street by cars. Asking won’t reduce it. Bold thinking and planning will help which won’t be popular.

    I don’t like the idea of it being pushed through without consultation. Nor do I like the idea of all schemes being a popularity contest. Sometimes what needs to be done for the long term benefit of everyone isn’t popular to the masses.

    And please don’t keep falling for the incorrect meaning of democracy. Democracy does not mean putting decisions to the public, it means letting the public decide who makes these decisions on our behalf. Getting Wanstead to vote whether we should have this or any other scheme is not democracy.

    1. I agree.

      A consultation should allow all the stakeholders, residents included, to make representation. That is all I want. Consult communities in the development of policy and design of local schemes as per Redbridge Parking Strategy.

      Ultimately the outcome should be the one that provides the best benefits at the most effective cost. What will work for the High Street and surronding streets isn’t what will work for Overton Drive/Warren Road. So design a scheme appropriate to the needs of these areas.

      1. I am a similar distant out to Warren Road (0.8 miles top the nearest point on the high st). We already have many spaces taken up by people simply dumping and using the tube. This will get worse once the high street and closer roads become permitted. Therefor, despite it being awkward needing permits for me and visitors, I still welcome permits this far out as it’s bad enough currently and will only get worse as we’d be blighted by the overspill.

        What we do need though, will be more spaces. Some of the areas covered by simply a yellow line will need to be converted into available residents bays.

        1. Overton Drive and Warren Road have lots of drives and a fair amount of kerbside that does not have housing on. Doubtless people will park there, but having the current 9.30am-10.30am restriction that is elsewhere applied to these strectches will be more than enough. Residents will most likely leave their cars on the street to discourage commuters and move them onto drives to free a space for a visitor. There are ways and means of dealing with this displacement without resorting to permits all day for six days a week. Ironically, Sunday is the worst day for parking in that area, but it is never bad.

  7. My thoughts entirely … Councils should be there to help and listen to the people choices … not to fleece us … a reminiscence of the Sherif of Nottingham

  8. How did we ever survive without cars and parking…
    Maybe this could be the start of local businesses getting the delivery persons back out on bikes.

    And Paul Garry.. Careful.. Wansteadium is forever asking us to buy from Amazon through the affiliated link in order to pay for this site.

    1. I get all my shopping delivered cos I’m too lazy to walk around supermarkets and department stores and carry it all home. 🙂

  9. Absolutely spot on. Making the whole of Wanstead Residents only Parking and/or Pay & Display will overly disadvantage our High Street in an age of ever increasing rents.
    We never had an issue with commuters parking til the preceding roads went Residents only Parking, from voting 60/40 against having Residents only Parking it went 60/40 for, surprise surprise. Where’s the logic in having it 9-6 Mon-Fri, and now proposing/implementing it til Saturday will see even less people park up & stroll to our wonderful high street! This is more than about the £45’s less per year every Wanstead car owner has, when did it become the councils mandate to make people’s lives worse off?! A new tax, friends & families having to pay to park to visit you & putting high street businesses at risk.

  10. From the weight of feeling the views of people in Wanstead is that they do not want parking controls imposed on them without consultation. Over 2000 people have signed petitions asking for consultation more than the number which responded to the Councils Borough wide Parking Strategy in 2015. If the Council gets away with no consultation in our area it will move on and do the same thing in the rest of the Borough

    Clearly the people of Wanstead want consultation, Councillors Howard and Athwal should do the honourable thing listen to us, halt the current scheme and provide consultation.

    If they feel that they are doing the right thing by not consulting they should resign and test their approach at the ballot box, if the residents of their Wards think that they have the right approach I am sure that both Councillors will be returned with increased majorities

    1. The residents of their wards don’t live in Wanstead nor Snaresbrook. Cllr Howard does live in Snaresbrook, but don’t expect him to stand in the area he actually lives in. Far easier to get elected elsewhere and impose his will here.

  11. Kiki, don’t assume one’s politics; nothing to stop a Labour votor criticising a labour-run council’s decisions if they think they’re wrong.
    Well said Wansteadium.
    We need to protect parking for residents whose roads are overwhelmed with commuters without having preventing others from others from visiting those residents (Nurses, tradesman, builders, cleaners etc) and those using Wanstead’s many facilities which makes Wanstead what it is.
    By all means have parking meters around the High Street to avail it for everyone, but let there be an hour’s restriction in roads clogged with commuters.
    Don’t waste money on white lining parking bays, but allow residents a paid-for permit to enable them to park in their road and over-ride the hour’s restriction, giving them exemption.
    Easy, then we all win, as that hour can be 10-11am or 11-12md or 2-3pm for example so that folk can lunch for meet for coffee.

  12. Totally agree,
    Council money grabbing
    Nothing to do with the welfare of our community.
    Parking in Wanstead is a nightmare as it is,with hidden cameras ect,give us residents
    a break.

  13. Completely agree Wansteadium.

    Cabinet meeting tonight (Tues 10th Jan @ 7.15pm in the Town Hall) with several people addressing meeting from #WeWantSay Action Group demanding ‘consultation’. Come down and support the speakers.


    1. Labour acting arrogantly and holding the views of the people it’s supposed to serve in contempt? Surely not! What a shocking allegation!

      It’s purely Labour doing what it has always done. It’s been rumbled in Scotland, and the rumble is spreading.

  14. I do hope that all of our political representative from Wanstead and Snaresbrook Wards, will be able to attend Fridays public meeting regarding the proposed parking changes and the lack of any public consultation, so that so that they are able to take back to Councillor Howard, if he is not in attendance, – the views of local people that they demand full consultation before the Council goes any further with their proposals to modify parking measures in our area.

    1. I do hope that the political representatives are given the opportunity to speak and not be shouted at.
      I can already see what is going to happen.. A lot of angry Wanstead folk who previously parked for free on their streets but now have to pay £45 a year will be just throw abuse their way.

      If this happens then I do hope that the political representatives do a RMT and walk out.

      Also: “the views of local people that they demand full consultation before the Council goes any further with their proposals to modify parking measures in our area.”

      Should read “the views of SOME of the local people that they demand full consultation before the Council goes any further with their proposals to ENHANCE parking measures in our area.”.

      1. Indeed. My views from a consultation will be strict parking measurements on the high st with no additional spaces. The poor darlings who work on the high street may have to commute by other means like the rest of us. Those that insist on driving to shops will have to pay like they do on pretty much every other high street

        I will be looking forward to a place wither fewer cars along with wardens to ensure the appalling parking we have currently is reduced.

        As that will create an overspill my views on the consultation will be to have stricter parking on the surrounding streets so our local streets can be reclaimed back form the park and ride who currently take them all up. It will, however, require some of the yellow lines to be converted into permit places else there’ll be a shortage.

        I’ll happily be feeding this back to the consultation should we get one.

      2. The 1500 or so people have signed petitions because they have not be allowed consultation. I am sure that the people want parking controls also want consultation as nobody has given them to say if they are happy with what is proposed

        I can only conclude that those who do not want consultation are scared of what the outcome might show

  15. So, I have a part solution to this issue.

    Pay and Display on the High Street I believe is a good thing. It will mean the people who will want to shop and must drive their car around the corner can without the business owners taking spaces (True Story).
    However, this means we will be short of spaces as the High Street is not very big.

    The Solution.. That nasty piece of overgrown land which is Rat Infested opposite the shops.. Evergreen!
    Simply turn that into a car park and we have an abundance of spaces. In fact I would go as far as double yellowing the High Street (or make it Disabled only) and have the Evergreen land be the place for cars to park at a cost.

    The council do not necessarily have to purchase the land, they can rent it.

    1. Think we need to get real the Evergreen Field is never going to be a car park as the Council would never giver planning permission for.

    2. Now that’s a thought. Not sure that a car park slap in the middle would improve the look of the High St though. Don’t forget there is already a Pay and Display car park in Wanstead. Unfortunately the machine frequently doesn’t work.

  16. I have just heard that the Council has counted all of the signatures from the petitions calling for public consultation on its proposed parking measures and they have confirmed that 2,225 individual people have signed up asking for exactly that – full consultation

    I do hope that Councillor Howard remembers this number as it shows local people have spoken and are determined to be listened to.

    1. How many of them were forced signatures… With the campaigners on the High Street who were hurling abuse at people who did not sign and leaving the petitions in Nursery Schools etc….

        1. I heard a horrible story this morning about how a local worker has received a serious telling off for allegedly asking people to sign a petition that was in the reception area.

          Totally misquoted from social media which simply stated that said business had left a petition there and as a result it was as if they were being force fed to sign it (by the campaigners).

          You have to be careful, good people are getting into trouble now who have done no wrong!

  17. Of course it’s income generation. However, parking in the High St is a problem so people tend to go to the large supermarkets which have car parks. Instead of complaining about the proposed plan – any ideas on how to make it less of a problem?

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