Labour-run Greenwich Council's new 'emissions-based' parking charges have come into effect, resulting in significant cost pressures for many residents with older vehicles - and concerns over the impact on footfall in our borough's Town Centres and shopping parades. The move comes as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has vowed to press ahead with ULEZ expansion, bringing even more Greenwich residents into the scope of £12.50 daily charges.
Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of the Conservative Opposition on Greenwich Council, raised the impact that higher pay and display parking charges will have on small businesses in a question and answer session at the Town Hall - urging the Labour Leader of the Council to engage with businesses on the issue. You can watch a clip here and the full exchange here.
Conservative councillors have also raised the impact of emissions-based charges on residents parking permits with some residents reporting, on renewing their permits, that the cost has gone up double or even more as a result of the Council's new charging scheme. The Council's new resident permit charges set a 'base price' of £100 per year, with discounts for newer vehicles with lower CO2 emissions and significant premiums - up to a total of £300 - for older vehicles with higher emissions. The scheme also includes surcharges for diesel and additional vehicles.
The Council's 'Kerbside Management Action Plan', adopted by the Labour Cabinet last October, promised that emissions-based parking "will be done in a way that mitigates disproportionate impacts on lower income residents" - but no mitigations have been included in the scheme, which hits those with older vehicles who are more likely to be on lower incomes the most.
Concerns have also been raised by residents that Greenwich Council's scheme does not align with the ULEZ charging structure - resulting in many cars that are ULEZ-compliant, that do not attract Sadiq Khan's £12.50 daily charge, still being charged more based on emissions by Greenwich Council.
Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said: "The Council's new emissions-based parking charge schedule boils down to significant increases for many residents - a significant extra cost of living pressure that couldn't come at a worse time. Like Sadiq Khan's ULEZ expansion, car owners on lower incomes will be hit the most. And in implementing its new resident permit charges, the Council hasn't delivered the 'mitigations' that were promised for people on low incomes last October."
"I am also concerned about the impact that higher pay-and-display charges will have on our Town Centres and shopping parades. If the Council's theory that people will switch to public transport proves incorrect - and it is just a theory - then our local small businesses will pay a heavy price. The Labour administration needs to take that risk seriously, and be ready to adjust its prices to protect footfall on our parades if necessary."
Charlie Davis, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Eltham & Chislehurst, said: "Labour-run Greenwich Council should be supporting residents with the cost of living and working to boost the likes of Eltham High Street - instead we get higher parking charges, increases in pay and display parking and endless cheerleading for Sadiq Khan's ULEZ expansion. People in Eltham deserve better than this."
Conservative councillors have requested a full statistical analysis of the impact of the resident permit changes in terms of changes in costs to Greenwich residents, and asked the Cabinet Member to account for why the promised mitigations for people on low incomes have not been delivered.