Scheme would have made costs among highest in the country
Council says there has been a shift already to lower polluting vehicles
Plans to introduce an emissions and location based charging scheme for controlled parking zones in the Merton borough are to be halted.
The scheme was due to come into effect from October, implementing a sliding scale of parking charges based on the type of car, its emissions and proximity to local transport hubs.
If introduced it would have made parking in the borough among the most expensive in the UK.
The council’s Cabinet will consider halting the scheme at its meeting in October in light of the impact of the pandemic and the shift already being seen towards low-pollution vehicles. One of the Council's deputy leaders described the price increases as only “on hold” at a meeting last week but it is understood there are no plans to reintroduce the proposals.
The council was intending to divide the borough’s Controlled Parking Zones into three tiers, with parking permit fees being based on local access to public transport links and the emissions of an applicant’s car.
As Wimbledon, and the west of the borough in general, was deemed to have the best public transport links, more CPZs would have been in the top two tiers than the east of the borough.
Apermit to park a 1999 Mercedes-Benz E-class diesel near a driver’s home in a Tier 1 CPZ such as Wimbledon town centre would have risen by £390 to £650. The driver of a 2005 1.9 Fiat Doble would pay £360 in the same CPZ.
All diesel drivers have had to pay a £150 supplement for parking permits since 2019.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Councillor Rebecca Lanning said, “After considering carefully the views of residents as the pandemic has moved on, we have decided not to go ahead with emissions-based parking charges.
“Merton residents have had a hard time during the pandemic and, with thousands still struggling to make ends meet, we recognise that increased charges would have impacted on residents who have been furloughed or made redundant.
“Too many families are now facing a cut to universal credit, a hike in energy costs this winter, plus a substantial rise in National Insurance contributions in the spring. We don’t want to add to this burden.
“We also recognise that even without increasing prices there has already been a noticeable switch to lower polluting vehicles.
“Ultimately, we want residents to drive less and the pandemic has helped make this shift. However, it wouldn’t be right to implement emissions-based parking charges at a time when some people still remain cautious about using public transport.
“We appreciate that through traffic and commercial vehicles are key contributing factors to poor air quality in Merton, and as we cannot tackle these alone we will continue to work with other local authorities across London as a whole.”
Cllr Anthony Fairclough, leader of the Lib Dem group on Merton Council said, “We were critical of the details of the scheme - as both these increases and a price hike in 2020 set the highest charges if you live in Wimbledon or Raynes Park.
“But what this U-turn does, is leave us with a parking permits scheme that charges you more if you live in certain parts of the borough (particularly areas where there aren't Labour councillors) - and irrespective of how polluting your vehicle is, or isn't.
“And of course what Council bosses aren't doing is saying what they'll do instead: the climate emergency is here, and air quality locally is poor.
“For example, many councils are implementing clean air zones – that limit heavy through traffic – something we called for in February 2019. And yet we have silence and a lack of leadership.”
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September 27, 2021