Parking: discuss

©Geoff Wilkinson©Geoff Wilkinson

Redbridge Council is stonewalling complaints about its consultation on paid-for parking in Wanstead, says the #WeWantSay action group, whose response is a new online forum for residents and businesses.

Redbridge Council claims there are parking issues borough-wide, so our new Redbridge Parking Forum initially has sections for Hainault, Seven Kings and Woodford Bridge, plus Wanstead. In the Wanstead section, complaints about not receiving consultation packs can be logged. We are sure whole streets were missed. Many in Cambridge Park were overlooked, including Wanstead's biggest (and possibly most worried) private employer, Treehouse Nursery School.

Incompetence played its part, but also – after the council's U-turn – consultation packs were only sent to residents in roads remaining in the area of proposed restrictions. Residents of Overton Drive – and north of Overton Drive, running from Blake Hall Road to St Mary's Avenue – received only a single sheet. Even if they wanted parking restrictions on their roads, as some did, they were unable to say so. The only additional consultation documents available were for shoppers, held for a few weeks at Wanstead Library. These lacked 14 questions from the residents' and business consultation documents. If such residents filled in the questionnaire online (and told the truth about being residents), the same questions were missing.

We fear the council will claim apathy as to why many didn't fill out questionnaires, rather than accept that lots were missed. Some will also have been unable to fill out forms online while others knew nothing about the process.

A number of residents and businesses now believe the handling of the consultation should go to the ombudsman. According to Donna Mizzi, who started last year's 3,500-strong petition calling for the consultation, this is just one area where the process was seriously flawed: "This survey was not carried out properly on any level. Questions were skewed in favour of parking controls without offering a 'no-change' choice, although council leader Jas Athwal had said all options would be given. And parking action groups were fooled into attending what they believed were consultations about the whole process when, in fact, residents' consultation packs started to hit doormats that morning."

Donna says those who opposed the Wanstead proposals, which were planned for introduction as an experimental scheme in February, have been vindicated by the 'Woodford Bridge experience', where free on-street, half-hour parking is only available by calling the RingGo parking service. In Woodford Bridge, shopkeepers and residents signed a 1,500-strong petition and said their six-month experimental scheme had already been running for nine months, with devastating consequences. Businesses report a 60% fall in business. Representatives addressed the council in June, saying four shops had shut and many more were planning to close if the restrictions were not changed.

To have your say in the Redbridge Parking Forum, visit wavidi.co/rpf


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