Labour play for extra time on Match Day parking restrictions

Fulham_FC_(shield).svgThere are three football clubs in our borough. Chelsea and QPR and in the Premier League. Fulham used to be in the Premier League. Amidst all the cheering there is the frustration of residents trying to find a parking space on match days.

Labour won votes at the council elections by promising to extend match day restrictions so that locals – with parking permits – would find it easier to get a space. These restrictions already apply in Parking Zones X and Y (near Craven Cottage) – although that also increases the pressure on adjacent zones. So some people in those zones voted Labour to get them extended.

It’s true that Labour’s manifesto merely promised to “address this where required”. To “address” the issue could simply mean consider bringing in restrictions and then proceeding to do nothing. But their manifesto come out after polling day. Labour canvassers in streets such as Archel Road (in Zone D) were more emphatic. Voters asking for more restrictions were told they would get them.

The difficulty, which was disregarded, is that these extra restrictions would involve a significant cost. When residents in all the zones south of the Talgarth Road were consulted on it four years ago the offer involved a £40 increase in the annual parking permit for those zones that opted for match day parking. That was probably why the proposal was rejected.

The cost was detailed in report on Tuesday to a council committee.

“The variable message signs deployed in CPZ X & Y are very clear and efficient, however there is a considerable capital cost of around £7,000 for each sign which would equate to a cost in the region of £4 million if the scheme were to be introduced in the 10 zones that were consulted.

“It would also be necessary to replace the existing parking sign plates and associated sign poles. This is because the match day sign plates are taller requiring mounting on a taller pole. Replacing the sign posts in the 10 CPZs would cost around £480,000.”

Why not do it on the cheap and not have such fancy signs with their bright lights?

“Systems used in other boroughs involved hinged sign plates that were manually opened on match days then closed after the event, which was hugely resource intensive and the signs could potentially be deployed mischievously.”

What about a blanket ban which would involve simpler (and thus cheaper) signage? Again problematic – Labour tried it when they were in power last time:

“Residents and businesses in CPZ Q & R (close to Parsons Green) asked for a similar extended parking controls in 2004, which was implemented. However the scheme was then removed in 2005 at some expense, as residents and businesses felt the restrictions were too restrictive for their visitors and customers.”

What about getting the £4 million from Section 106 payments from property developers? There is not unlimited money in that pot, there are restrictions on which each payment can go on and, in any case, Labour had pledged that funding extra police officers was to be the priority.

So it is not quite as easy as Labour pretended in the election.

Thus we had a pathetic spectacle on Tuesday evening of delay and evasion at the “Community Safety, Environment & Resident Services Policy and Accountability Committee”. There would be a “working party” or ” a task force” or “a consultation about a consultation.” It was language familiar to viewers of Yes Minister.

When I suggested a time limit for actually making a decision there a most indignant response.

By the way there was a another Labour election manifesto pledge was ditched the same evening.

They said:

“We will make it easier for family and friends to visit local residents by exploring the replacement of the council’s complicated Smart Visitor scheme with simple parking vouchers that residents can buy for others.”

Instead they are pressing ahead with the scheme. Their report now says:

“Presently 13,015 SVPs are registered and used throughout the borough. Whilst during the roll-out process the Council was receiving some complaints relating to how the system worked that were addressed, the number of complaints has decreased significantly to around 1 or 2 per month, mostly relating to individual concerns that are easily resolved.”

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