On Tuesday 8th December Merton Council are holding an emergency meeting to discuss Labour's proposed new parking charges. We don't think the current proposals are effective or fair. But, unlike the Tories, we have an alternative proposal that will clean up Merton's air, without unfairly penalising residents.
We believe that Merton Council should be using its powers to encourage residents to use cars less, and switch to less polluting vehicles where possible. But the current proposals will not do this - instead they seem designed to raise revenue, and unfairly target residents who don't have off-street parking, who can't afford to buy new cars, and who are living in Wimbledon and Raynes Park.
The proposed scheme is incredibly complex. It includes different charges depending on where in the borough you live, how long parking restrictions are in place for, and how polluting your car is. Moreover, it penalises residents who own old cars they rarely use, and who can't afford to buy new vehicles.
Merton Tories are simply opposing these plans without suggesting any alternative measures to improve air quality. But we are engaging constructively, and have suggested the following 4-point plan to improve these proposals:
- Give people time to switch to less polluting vehicles. We agree that Merton Council has a role to play in encouraging residents to switch to less polluting vehicles. But residents who can't afford to buy new cars shouldn't be penalised. Any emissions based charges should initially only apply to new vehicles. Furthermore, Merton should introduce a scrappage scheme, to help people in switching to less polluting cars.
- Bring in a low mileage discount. Parked cars don't cause air pollution. It's the driving, not the parking, that pollutes. That's why we want Merton Council to introduce a low mileage discount. This will actually encourage people to use public transport or active travel options instead of driving where possible.
- Fair charges for visitors permits. The current proposals penalise residents based on how polluting their visitor's car is. There doesn't seem to be any logical mechanism by which this results in better air quality. We're asking the Council to review this.
- Any extra cash raised should be spent on improving air quality and fighting climate change.
Moreover, we remain opposed to the changes last year which led to residents living in Wimbledon & Raynes Park being charged more for parking than residents living in the East of the borough - our response to those changes is available here.
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