Residents fear new greener parking scheme will hit poor hardest

Petrol pump. Pic: paulbr75, Pixabay

From January 1 drivers with cars that produce more pollution will be charged more to park in Croydon, as part of the council’s greener parking scheme.

However, some residents have protested that this will come at a cost to those who cannot afford zero emission vehicles and so will be charged more as a result.

Those with zero emission vehicles will enjoy a parking charge reduction of 90 per cent, while residents with vehicles that have the highest emissions have to face a charge increase of 30 per cent. The scheme will also end one-hour free parking.

Making Croydon more sustainable is a major priority for the council who aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. However residents say that this scheme is not the solution. 

The council said in a statement that there will be a “sliding scale of emissions-based parking charges” that are based on pricing bands according to how much pollution cars produce. The first band will pay the least, and includes vehicles that produce less than a gram of carbon dioxide. Band 2 includes cars using petrol or diesel introduced since September 2015 and band 3, the most expensive, will be vehicles that produce the most carbon dioxide per kilometre.

Councillor Muhammad Ali, cabinet member for sustainability, said in a statement: “As a council we are intent on improving the living environment for our residents, and these measures encourage people to switch to a less polluting car and promote more walking, cycling and use of public transport.”

Emission-based charges have been in place for annual parking permits since last year, however this is the first year the scheme will be extended to cover on-street parking and car parks which will have an impact on high street businesses.

Crystal Palace resident Les Parry told Eastlondonlines: “I can understand the drive to make our environment greener but I do not think this is the way forward.”

“Most of the owners of the older vehicles have them because they cannot afford the very expensive electric or hybrid cars, so these charges are hitting the poorest… I don’t think it’s morally right or fair to tax those who run older cars due to [their] income,” he said.

Resident Toria Teal told ELL that the new changes to parking fees would “hit the poor the hardest.”

Some residents say that the changes are being used to generate cash for the bankrupt council:

No more free parking

Resident Mark Smith said that a further issue with the scheme is the removal of one-hour free parking, saying that people would be forced to park elsewhere which would affect independent shops and businesses on the high street. “I think that will have a bigger impact on people’s wallets, and potentially not reduce congestion or emissions,” he told ELL.

This isn’t the first time the council have been under criticism for their attempts to reduce emissions through vehicle related schemes, such as the low traffic neighbourhood that prompted residents to launch legal action against them. 

The council said the scheme comes after a consultation that received 626 responses, but with a population of over 380,000 it is clear that not everyone will agree with the new charges.

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