Labour try to introduce mobile phone only parking charges by the back door

Article by Spencer Drury


When leaving the Town Hall this evening following several hours of interviewing candidates for the Council’s new Standards Committee I encountered a large yellow sign which supported a large application related to parking.  As a naturally curious person, I stopped to look at it and noted that it was to allow the introduction of ‘telephone and electronic payments for parking’ which immediately struck me as daft as Tescos now have an enormous free car park in the centre of Woolwich.  However, as I looked at the notice a little more, it struck me that about half way down was the conversion of the Eltham Centre CPZ (in my ward) to mobile phone parking charging. 


This inclusion shocked me, not least as not a single Council Officer had informed me about it and as a ward Councillor I think this is the least I can expect.  Still, I thought maybe I missed the Eltham notice – if it only went up yesterday it can easily happen, so I drove to the High Street to check the situation.  Having walked and driven around the whole Eltham Centre Parking Zone there was no sign of the notice, so I popped in to the Centre itself where yet again, there was no sign advertising this change.


Finally I picked up a copy of Greenwich Time, which normally goes in the bin pretty much unread and on page 17, found a copy of the notice which had been so prominently displayed in Woolwich. 


Now to be clear, there is no specific mention of the mobile phone parking charges replacing the cash meters at this stage, so I am checking that.  However, from the budget documents issued in 2010, it is quite clear that the Council intends to introduce this single form of payment as a money raising measure. 


In addition, what I find quite upsetting is that at the start of this year the Cabinet Member concerned promised, in Full Council (March 2013), in response to a question from me, that she was “reviewing the consistency and fairness of parking charges across the borough with a view to bring forward amended proposals”.  Similarly I am aware from previous meetings of the Highways Committee that the Eltham Centre Parking Zone does not make any money for the Council anyway.


So in conclusion, while there is still work to be done, it seems to me quite clear that this is the Labour Council’s attempt to introduce mobile phone only parking charges to Eltham and other areas of the borough.  It is a sneaky attempt to put in the charges (which in my experience residents and businesses do not want) in a small space which they can then expand. 


I would urge all people who care about the long term viability of Eltham High Street to oppose these measures by writing to Royal Borough of Greenwich, PO Box 485, Kemp House, 152-160 City Road, London, EC1V 2NV before the deadline of 2nd July 2013.  I would be grateful if you had time to send me a copy too either to my email address or to Cllr Spencer Drury, Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich, London, SE18 6PW.


By the way I should mention that although I am only an Eltham Councillor, the impact of these changes in reducing parking around Greenwich Town Centre will be substantial, but I guess as it is basically unaffordable to park anywhere near the centre of Greenwich these days, there might suddenly be a surplus of spaces.