Monday, July 9, 2012


Opinion piece by Teena Lashmore 

There is an alternative to Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) which will have the same effect as CPZ but does not discipline Hackney residents.

Managing capacity and parking in Hackney has seen the implementation of Controlled Parking Zones, commonly known as CPZ.  These CPZ become live after a ‘public consultation’.  The question is: Have we really had a ‘fair consultation’?

The idea that we have had a consultation is highly misleading as there are only two options available in the current consultation: either support the CPZ plan or don’t.  This is an extremely narrow definition of consultation and is actually more a kin to an ultimatum.  Most democratic consultations have a discussion where we (residents) collectively explore a range of proposals.  This appears not to have happened, giving rise to the question: Have we actually had a fair consultation? 

The London Borough of Hackney, like other Boroughs, has failed to engage the public with the range of measures of managing local parking capacity.  They have chosen one system that effectively disciplines the resident by charging them a fee to obtain a yearly permit to park in a road where they live and it disciplines those from outside of the area - parking in the Borough for convenience.  This is a parking system with a ‘win win’ strategy and it is thus simply another tax on Hackney residents.

There is an alternative to CPZ which will have the same effect as CPZ but does not discipline the resident.  Hackney already has one of the highest council tax systems in London but our roads are the same as other borough where they pay less.  The revenue generated from the existing CPZ appears not to be ring fenced for street and pavement improvements.  Some of the revenue raised may go to supporting further public transport infrastructure but once these are built where does the CPZ money go thereafter?  It is unclear from the borough’s website and from the CPZ strategy itself.  Once introduced, the CPZ is forever and is thus a local TAX.

The alternative would be community parking – CP.  This can follow the same lines and boundaries as CPZ, except resident would not need to buy a permit.  Residents would simply apply for their CP permit.  The cost to cover CP would come from the cars that parked in Hackney that did not have CP.  Thus, we would punish the cars that park antisocially rather than attack Hackney residents.

The cost of maintaining CP could be managed via a cooperative.  This could see local areas employing a local resident, such as an early retired person unable to take up other forms of work.  The infrastructure for CP is the same as CPZ and can now be covered by all the revenue generated by all the other areas of Hackney where they have been paying for their yearly permits up until now.

The operational period for CP would see the day split into two sections: 10am to 12 and 3pm to 6pm.  These times would discourage many of the current offenders parking in our neighbourhoods.  For example, outer borough car and van drivers coming in from Edmonton and Enfield

The reason people ‘park and ride’ is because it is cheaper for them to drive to Hackney and park and purchase a zone 2 travel permit from Rectory Road or journey on buses inside zone 2.  The ‘park and ride’ behaviour is cheaper than purchasing a travel permit from the outer zones – which is where many of the cars parked in Hackney during the day come from.

The suggested operational period would capture both daytime and evening ‘park and ride’, thus creating an effective deterrent.  Those drivers that drive and park in the borough for work could apply for a paid CP or text purchase a daily ticket or face a parking ticket with its high cost.  Both systems would generate the income needed to support CP.

Finally some street layout can be adjusted to one-way systems.  For example Jenner Road in the N16 area.  One-way system discourage the ‘park and riders’ as it discourages the ‘rat runs’ – which is where car drivers avoid main streets as they assume side street are quicker to navigate.  If the drivers can only go one way, this defeats that objective.  This along with diagonal parking would allow for an immediate increase in parking capacity for many streets. 

Although there are discussions in road transport services (TFL) to discontinue with one-way road systems, those discussions are largely around the main ‘A roads’ and not the side roads or roads categorised as (b) roads. 

Cycling in both directions on one-way streets is already in operation in Hackney, for example De-Beavour Road, so this can simply continue to be rolled out over the whole borough.  And as many car owners in this borough also cycle – thus doing their bit to reduce car pollution, it seems odd that we would charge them a fee for doing something positive for our environment.

Costing for CP could be as little as five hours a day on operational days, usually Monday to Friday.  The average cost of parking ticket is about £80.  So the worker need only find two vehicles a day in order to cover his/ her salary costs.  Other tickets issued would be a bonus and we as residents can decide priorities in which to use these funds – thus Community Parking! 

Training for staff is no longer expensive and the equipment can be ‘tupe-ed’ over as it duplicates CPZ and thus simply requires an IT modification.  

The biggest cost would be in enforcement for non-payment of parking tickets and for this we can enter into a Service Level agreement and or allow the council to undertake this part of the processes – as they already deal with other parking enforcements. 

As long as the tickets have been issues in accordance with due process of law and parking regulations, the legal process is a service we in this borough could purchase from our borough or another borough.  The costs of prosecution is payable by the offender so this is yet another revenue stream to support CP, cover enforcement costs and support other road / walkway development schemes in the borough.

As we enter into yet another extremely unsatisfactory consultation on CPZ, where the Council continue to simply chip away at its residents until they succumb to their demands of CPZ, it is time to look at alternatives.

There is no evidence to suggest CPZ systems reduce the amount of car journeys taken by local residents.  But CPZ do free up road capacity so that those who can afford to pay for CPZ and those who simply use Hackney side streets for their drive through can continue to do so - unhindered.

It is time Hackney residents have a real consultation on parking and capacity.  Housing development and excessive multiple occupancy of buildings has gone unchallenged and this has had the biggest impact on road capacity.  Negotiations with outer boroughs to develop parking at station/ transport interchanges has not taken place and an Equality Impact Assessments around those most harmed by the Hackney Tax, mainly the working public and those families on low incomes is also absent from the ‘consultation’. 

Let us have our public meetings to explore the range of options to manage parking capacity in Hackney.  Let us not have another Hackney TAX and instead let us have a democratic consultation.  Come on Hackney – you can do it!

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