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Parking cash could transform Whitestone Pond

PUBLISHED: 08:14 31 January 2007 | UPDATED: 14:25 07 September 2010

CAMDEN COUNCIL takes the award for unabashed cheek by citing the London Olympics as the reason why Transport for London should pick up the bill for improving Whitestone Pond. It s a laudable objective, of course, but the council must know that suc

CAMDEN COUNCIL takes this week's award for unabashed cheek by citing the London Olympics as the reason why Transport for London should pick up the bill for improving Whitestone Pond. It's a laudable objective, of course, but the council must know that such a request is likely to fall a long way down the list of TfL priorities.

Of course it would be great if TfL wrote the cheque but there are easier and more expedient ways of ensuring that this overdue facelift takes place long before 2012. For starters, isn't this precisely the kind of scheme Camden's vast reserves of parking revenue are supposed to pay for?

The council defends itself against charges of using parking enforcement as a stealth tax by quoting the Road Traffic Act 1984, which dictates that parking profits can only be spent in certain ways, including highways improvements, road maintenance and environmental improvements.

The Whitestone Pond wish list includes York Stone paving. street lighting and benches, as well as a piece of public art. All of this would fall comfortably within the criteria.

If Camden Council genuinely wants to create a ''fantastic legacy project,'' who or what is stopping it from putting the money on the table? The council could still approach TfL for a contribution, along with the Corporation of London (which owns the pond, or at least the water in it) and even the developer of the historic Jack Straw's Castle building, which will be on display to the watching world.

To all those who have for years been trying to have Whitestone improved, we say: don't let the council off the hook. It has both the authority and the financial wherewithal to deliver this project, and soon.

By dressing the idea up as an Olympic project, when it should happen anyway, the council is merely chucking red herrings into the ancient pond.

The course for the 25-mile Olympic cycle event will pass countless points of interest. Many of these could do with rather more than a lick of paint before the world's cameras are trained on them, but some are much too important to wait until then. And given some of the hair-brained ways in which parking cash has been squandered, investment in a Whitestone facelift would represent one of the most satisfactory and enduring outlays imaginable.

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