Merton's Liberal Democrats have accused Labour-run Merton Council of hypocrisy for giving half its employees free parking while ordinary residents are hit with a 130% hike to parking permit charges.
Labour have claimed that their new parking charges will help to cut air pollution, but have provided no evidence for this. A Lib Dem proposal to scrap the charges and replace them with a fair emissions-based scheme was voted down by Labour councillors.
“Local residents are rightly concerned about the Council’s plans for a massive increase in parking charges”, said Simon McGrath, Lib Dem councillor for Dundonald.
“But it is a real kick in the teeth for people who live and work in the borough to find out that Merton Council is handing out free passes to their staff.
“If the Council really wanted to tackle air pollution they would have applied the new charges fairly to everyone in the borough, including linking them to emissions. Their inconsistent approach just proves what the Merton Lib Dems have been saying all along: the new parking charges have nothing to do with air quality - they are just a way for the Labour Council to squeeze money out of Wimbledon and Raynes Park residents."
The Council’s plans will see annual parking charges rise from £65 to £150 in central Wimbledon and £120 in Raynes Park.
Research conducted by Cllr McGrath and the Merton Lib Dems revealed that Merton Council has issued 882 employees with permits for free parking (out of a total of 1800 employees), and has made no efforts to encourage staff to use public transport or less polluting vehicles.
The Council also pays 346 staff an annual lump sum car allowance - a total of £356,000 in the current year - in addition to a mileage allowance. These are paid to employees regardless of how polluting their vehicle is.
“Not only will residents in central Wimbledon and Raynes Park have to cough up £150 and £120 a year respectively just to park their cars outside their homes,” Cllr McGrath said, “they will also be coughing up over Labour’s failure to get a grip on air pollution in our borough.”
The Merton Lib Dems have launched a petition calling on the Council to scrap its unfair parking charges and replace them with an emissions-based scheme.