Labour-run Greenwich Council is pressing on with its attempt to introduce parking restrictions on Rochester Way and Welling Way, despite 98% of consultation respondents objecting to the plans. The restrictions - on non-residential roads near Falconwood Station on the Greenwich/Bexley border - risk displacing parking into Eltham Park and other residential areas.
Conservative Opposition councillors 'called in' the decision for further scrutiny at the Town Hall, after being contacted by Eltham Park residents concerned that there views were being ignored by Greenwich Council.
The meeting heard from Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of the Opposition on the Council, that despite the consultation on Labour's Rochester Way/Welling Way parking proposals being poorly advertised, 136 objections were made by residents - with only 3 comments in support of the plans. Only 16 objections were listed in the formal report that led to the Council's decision to proceed, almost all of them from the Bexley side of the borough boundary - despite Conservative councillors' analysis of the full (unpublished) comments finding that 63% of objections submitted were from Eltham Park residents.
Objections poured into the consultation from Eltham Park residents concerned about commuter parking on these non-residential stretches of Rochester Way and Welling Way instead being displaced into their area - but this had no impact on the decision made by Labour Cabinet Member Averil Lekau just before Christmas.
Councillor Hartley told the 'call in' meeting that this had created "a terrible impression - of a Council deliberately ignoring Eltham Park's strong objections to these restrictions" and that "the Council has a lot of work to do to convince Eltham park residents that this was in any way a genuine consultation". While the Council had claimed that not implementing restrictions would perpetuate parking problems, Councillor Hartley pointed out that Conservative councillor Spencer Drury - who had been the councillor in this area for 20 years - had not been contacted once by a single resident raising any concern about parking on these stretches of Rochester Way and Welling Way.
Despite these concerns, the Labour administration is pressing ahead with its decision - which will now be passed to the Greater London Authority to determine following a separate objection from neighbouring Bexley Council.
Greenwich Conservative councillors have recently criticised the new Labour administration's decision to abolish the 'attitude survey' phase of the process for establishing new Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs). In November Greenwich Council pressed ahead with a new Eltham North CPZ despite the Tudor Barn's warning of its "disastrous" impact on their business, and despite concerns from residents and community groups using the Progress Hall. The following month Labour councillors voted against an Opposition Conservative proposal to 'guarantee' scrutiny of future parking and traffic proposals, which would have moved the Council to a 'Right Scheme in the Right Place' approach and guaranteed that residents, businesses and ward councillors could input into future proposals in advance.
Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of the Conservative Group at the Town Hall, said: "All of this adds up to Labour councillors showing they are intent on pressing ahead with their parking plans, regardless of what residents think. This 'Council knows best' approach is dated, unfair and demonstrably wrong. I fear that our borough is in for many years of parking and traffic controversies if this new Labour administration does not change course - and it is local residents and businesses who will pay the price.
"In this latest example on Rochester Way and Welling Way, I simply do not believe this was a genuine consultation. With 98% of comments opposed to these plans, and two thirds of those objections coming from Eltham Park, it is clear that the Council was going to plough ahead whatever local residents said. And what's worse, the Council has openly acknowledged that commuter parking will likely be displaced into residential roads in Eltham Park as result of these plans - and that they would respond to any displacement in future through further restrictions.
"This means this is effectively two decisions in one, with an Eltham Park-wide Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) an inevitable future consequence of the Council's decision to press ahead with these restrictions on Rochester Way and Welling Way, which almost nobody wants or thinks necessary. Eltham Park residents will rightly feel disrespected by this entire process."
Read more about the call-in meeting on 853 London and MyLondon, and watch the full meeting online here.