Camden Council's parking proposals 'could devastate local business'
- Credit: PA
Camden Council’s proposals to increase parking prices have been welcomed for their emissions-based approach but criticised for their potential impact on local business.
The town hall is planning to make a series of changes from April including a 50% diesel surcharge for residents permits, a rise in price of the cheapest parking bays, and a reduction in the length of time drivers can park in short-stay bays.
Vehicles’ varying levels of carbon emissions will determine the price of car club and doctors’ permits, and the cost of pay and display parking.
The council says the proposals will dissuade driving while encouraging cycling and walking, or for residents who rely on their car, push them towards electric vehicles.
Residents said the rate of the price hikes was too steep, while Camden’s opposition, despite welcoming the move to emissions-based charging, warned the proposal to limit short-stay parking could “devastate” local business.
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Robin Collingwood, 70, from West Hampstead, said: “I’m very much against the rate at which the cost of parking permits are rising because I don't see the fiscal justification for it.”
Mr Collingwood called for an increase in electric car charging points, adding: “Arguing for people to move to electric cars is all very well, but not everybody can afford one.
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“More than that, you can’t expect people to move to electric cars until you put the proper infrastructure in place.”
Camden is proposing to increase the level of diesel surcharge from 21.5% of a petrol vehicle permit price to 50%. For an annual permit, this would amount to an additional £237 for the highest polluting vehicles.
The cheapest short-stay parking would also be removed. This would mean the cheapest hourly price for the lowest polluting vehicles would be £3.43. For the highest polluting cars incurring a diesel surcharge, the lowest hourly cost would be £7.72.
Pay and display spaces, meanwhile, would have a maximum stay of one or two hours – down from the current maximum of four hours.
John Saynor, chair of West Hampstead Amenity & Transport (WHAT), backed the increased resident permit charges for diesel cars.
However his group opposed the reduction of time for short-stay parking and he criticised the diesel surcharge for pay and display, which he said would make tariffs “even more complicated”.
Lisa Thomson, a coordinator for Camden Greenpeace, said the encouragement towards electric vehicles was “better for the planet” and for “people’s pockets”.
The Kentish Town resident urged the council to invest increased revenues from parking into “walking, cycling and zero carbon public transport”.
The council said any surplus funds made from the proposals would – as required in law – go back into public transport infrastructure including on parking facilities and street maintenance.
Another proposal is to remove free parking for motorcyclists who would be required to hold a permit or have paid for a short-stay space.
Camden Conservatives’ leader Cllr Oliver Cooper said: “A move towards charging based on emissions is welcome, but Camden's implementation seems discriminatory and wrongheaded.
“The proposal to limit parking to either one or two hours would devastate hospitality and retail by forcing drivers to cut meals and shopping trips short.
“It would also perversely encourage shorter stays - which means prioritising shorter journeys, which Camden claims to want to deter.
“When our high streets are suffering so badly, it's vital that Camden doesn't increase the cost and difficulty of getting there safely."
Citing an “eye-watering” 70% rise in residents’ parking charges last year, Cllr Cooper said proposals should be “revenue-neutral” so that extra income from the highest polluting vehicles goes towards reducing parking costs for lower polluting vehicles.
He added: “Camden is hammering West Hampstead and Fortune Green especially hard, with charges increasing there even for electric cars, and low-emission vehicles increasing by over 50%.
“Picking on the north-west of the borough by imposing higher charges for the cleanest vehicles defeats the purported point of the changes. It shows that Camden isn't motivated by reducing pollution, but raising revenue.”
Cllr Adam Harrison, Camden Council’s environment chief, said: “Last year we declared a climate emergency and committed to doing everything we could to make Camden a zero carbon borough by 2030.
“Carbon emissions in Camden have fallen by 37% since 2010 but we know we all need to make changes to our daily lives if we are to keep making progress.
“We want Camden residents to walk, cycle or use public transport wherever possible, as this will not only contribute to making Camden a zero carbon borough, but also reduce harmful pollutants and bring enormous health benefits."
Cllr Harrison added: "Through this parking strategy we want to further encourage residents to switch from diesel and petrol to electric vehicles if they do require their own vehicle for work or personal reasons.
"We also want to free up kerbside space, as this will allow us to install more measures that can help people to get around more easily and safely, such as segregated cycle lanes, which provide safe space for the most vulnerable on our roads, including children travelling to school by bike.”
If approved, the first phase of parking changes would begin in April.
Residents can comment on the proposals until December 18 by emailing email@example.com or by sending a letter to Parking Policy, Freepost LBC Transport Strategy.