Consultation on changes to parking charges for 2024 - Response from the Liberal Democrats in Merton

13 Dec 2023
Lib Dem campaigners fighting for fair parking charges in Merton

The Liberal Democrats believe that the consultation on changes to parking charges for 2024 misses several opportunities for positive change for both Merton residents and the environment. The Labour political administration advances two broad justifications for the latest round of increases to parking charges: 1) Increased costs in the management of on-street parking, 2) Efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Whilst the objectives are legitimate, we remain unconvinced that either is being approached properly or effectively. It’s unclear how or if the administration’s proposals complement the Walking and Cycling Strategy currently being developed (which presumably will look at the management of on-street and pavement parking and accessible travel).

Our recommended additions and changes to the options recommended in the consultation:

  • The removal of the costs differential brought in with the price structure adopted in January 2020. It is an in-built unfairness that residents parking in the west of the borough pay nearly double the charge as elsewhere. This acts to undermine the legitimacy of the scheme in the eyes of many.
  • The consideration of whether other variables would be appropriate when determining charges (for example, new discounts) such as vehicle weight and length. This could incentivise residents to use vehicles that are safer in a dense urban environment.
  • The introduction of discounts to incentivise certain behaviours, for example for smaller vehicles as described above, a “low mileage” discount for those using their vehicles less (as previously proposed), and/or the introduction of discounts or other benefits for multi-occupancy use, such as carpooling and/or ride sharing.
  • The ringfencing of monies from any additional charges to support air quality measures in the Borough to improve the legitimacy and public acceptance.
  • The automatic index linking of permit charge increases (to an appropriate measure – not CPI) to depoliticise future changes in parking charges.
  • The alignment of the diesel levy to ULEZ principles, so as to remove a level of confusion in the application of two different measures intended to improve air quality.
  • The implementation of realistic lead-in times to allow people the time needed to change. This again is an important measure in improving the legitimacy and public acceptance of the measures.