Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hackney’s CPZs unstoppable!

Hackney Council continue to implement Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) into the borough despite huge opposition.  On Monday 22 April 2013, the Labour Cabinet and Mayor Jules Pipe signed a new Parking and Enforcement Plan (PEP) without the usual public consultation.  This plan effectively allows the Council to continue implementing CPZs even when the majority of residents vote against them.

R Zone campaigners in Hackneys Stoke Newington opposed their CPZ and successfully challenged the Council on the consultation.  This resulted in the process being stopped in January 2013.  Negotiations with the Ombudsman finally determined how Hackney could lawfully continue and how the Council must avoid having nine years of CPZs torn up.  Basically, Hackney had to rewrite the Parking Enforcement Plan and sign this off before April 2013.  

Given how highly contentious the issue is and for the need for Hackney to address parking capacity needs, it is time to lift the lid on the specific detail that allows the introduction of a CPZ despite the majority of residents voting against them.

The consultation process has to identify an area and it usually does so by using logical boundaries to establish the roads that would be inside the zone.  The votes are then collected and the residents are told, the majority vote of the whole area will be the deciding factor.

Some years ago the Council decided to undertake a street by street analysis of the votes - to identify pockets of CPZ support.  It then joined these pockets together to make new CP Zones.  However, the Parking Enforcement Plan did not permit this and the public were never consulted.  When challenged, the Council removed the Parking and Enforcement Plan 2010-2015 from the website and continued joining pockets of voters together to introduce CPZs. 

The consequence of this behaviour is illustrated in the two maps of the R Zone.  The top map shows the residents votes and as a consequence there is no CPZ.  The bottom Map is of the same area but using the street by street analysis.  As illustrated, the Council ignored the middle majority and simply joined the four corners together to make a CPZ. 

This essentially means a tiny minority can now determine the whole outcome of a CPZ area.  Had these pockets on either end been classified as Black Minority Ethnic (BME) or Gay or Disables or Women etc then such actions would have been impossible.  But because those who can afford to pay for parking also support CPZs and generally live closer together, this effectively means our public roads are becoming the private property of those with high disposable incomes.

The legislation that permits the Council to charge a CPZ is quite clear, it must do so to alleviate congestion and must use the funds to develop, support and improve parking facilities. 

Since the introduction of CPZ in Hackney some nine years ago, we have seen the Council remove public garages from residents in estates and roads, brick up public garages to remove them from our everyday thinking and allow multiple occupancy of residential dwellings, all of which have created parking problems. 

Furthermore, the funds already raised from Hackneys CPZ have not been spent on improving car parking capacity in the borough - one need only read the balance sheets to see most of the funds are going to private contractors.

This unofficial tax will see thousands of low earning families and those with multiple jobs being forced to buy a residential permit or move to cycling or public transport.  As a cyclist I am painfully aware that cycling is not suitable for everyone and that having two jobs and children means that public transport is simply too long.  Ten minutes between buses adds up and can be the differences between arriving at work on time or late or being fired. 

Likewise, a yearly residential permit of some £200 that rises not in line with salaries but by some other obscure measure, is likely to see families on low incomes with multiple jobs and children falling economically closer to poverty measures.

London is 610 square meters so the idea that personal transport can simply be priced away from the general public is ridiculous, divisive and poor economics.  The public highways are ours and it is us the public - that should determine how we use them.  Although that decision was taken away from the whole of Hackney on Monday, in eight months time there will be another opportunity to feedback on the Parking Enforcement Plan. 

This is the time to ask why are Hackney residents paying for their CPZ when LB Newham allow the first car to park for free?  Why are we allowing our public roads and parking to become the privilege of the wealthy? And why should our pensioners or early retirees being entombed by unaffordable parking costs?

Rectory Rollers understand many of these issues and has suggested a range of alternatives.  They aim to join the community together (rectoryrollers@gmail.com), and by using open consultations - re-write Hackneys Parking Enforcement Plan to reflect the majority's needs.

As CPZs continue to sweep over Hackney, we are sleep walking into a world where cars and public roads are for the wealthy.  Rectory Rollers believe that by actively engaging with the PEP in 2013, we may stop that trend and change our environment for the better.

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