Merton Liberal Democrats challenged Labour on the fairness and the effectiveness of the new parking charges policy at improving air quality.
The move comes after an emergency meeting on Tuesday 8th December to examine new charges proposed for April 2021. Parking charges in Wimbledon and Raynes Park have already been increased by over 130% in January - whilst charges in other parts of the borough have remained lower.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat group Cllr Anthony Fairclough stated:
“We opposed the January 2020 location-based charges, on grounds that they were unlikely to improve air quality. The new scheme retains those higher charges for Wimbledon and Raynes Park, and also applies to visitors permits, so residents would pay more or less depending on the type of car their visitor or tradesman drives. We have real concerns about whether this new scheme will work to achieve its supposed aims.”
Councillor Fairclough and the Liberal Democrats proposed FOUR new solutions to make the plan fairer:
- Time to switch to less polluting vehicles. Merton Council has a role to play in encouraging residents to switch to less polluting vehicles – but it has to support people to do so. Pushing the scheme back to a January 2022 start date would give those who can afford to buy new vehicles fair warning to change.
- A low mileage discount or rebate. It's driving, not parking, that pollutes. This would encourage people to drive less to get the discount.
- Fair charges for visitors permits. The proposals charge residents based on the vehicles their visitors drive. There doesn't seem to be any logical way that this will result in better air quality.
- Extra cash raised should be spent on improving air quality and fighting climate change. Residents need to know that their money will contribute to cutting carbon emissions, developing sustainable travel measures and improving air quality. There should greater transparency about what the money raised from these new charges is spent on.
All four ideas were knocked back by Labour party councillors.
However the decision is not finalised yet. Join us and our campaign continuing to fight for changes by volunteering here.