Parked cars in Evelyn Ward Pic: Saskia Henn
By Jack Friend and Saskia Henn
Angry New Cross residents have strongly attacked Lewisham Council over its failure to consult them about new style parking permits being introduced as part of its Sustainable Streets programme.
The proposals were criticised at the New Cross Gate Assembly meeting last week which involved angry scenes when residents accused Councillor Louise Krupski, the council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate of not being clear about the plans.
One person at the meeting said: “I knocked on doors and in Pepys Estate, Silwood, and around Deptford Park – nobody got your leaflet, nobody knew there was going to be a controlled parking zone.”
Some residents accused Krupski of prematurely walking out of the meeting, held at Lewington Community Centre. Lewisham Council strongly denied this, saying she was not a ward councillor and had only been scheduled to attend the meeting for the Sustainable Streets discussion.
The plans at the centre of the row involve turning current parking bays into club car zones and introducing paid parking permits. Resident permits will start at £70 a year for petrol cars and £120 per year for diesel cars.
The scheme is currently being rolled out in phases across Lewisham. In Deptford and Catford/Crofton Park the new measures will be introduced this month. In Evelyn phase one of consultation has just finished and the council are analysing the results.
At the meeting a number of people who were in the area covered by the new scheme said they were not consulted about the plans. One person said that she received a letter and saw signs with a QR code, but said that those who don’t know how to use modern technology would not know how to access the plans.
A woman on the management committee of the Lewington Community Centre spoke on condition of anonymity, telling Eastlondonlines: “To find out that the councillor said that they had talked to people and it was going to the next stage, I was shocked. How would I not know this when I’m tapped into the community? So I do think they kind of lied about that.”
Another person at the meeting, also requesting anonymity, told ELL: “They said in the meeting they contacted Tenants and Residents Association groups. We have a TRA group, but they didn’t contact us.”
Residents continued asking questions about the consultation process at the meeting. Krupski became increasingly frustrated with the meeting not moving on and left the meeting early whilst still being asked questions by residents. This has provoked an angry reaction from some of the people who were still at the meeting. Krupski did not reply to questions from ELL about her exit.
The council told ELL: “Krupski left the meeting at the end of the agenda item on Sustainable Streets, which she was attending for in her capacity as Cabinet Lead for the Environment. She was only due to attend for this item and is not a ward Councillor for New Cross Gate, hence why she did not stay for the remainder of the meeting.”
Councillor Louise Krupski
This contradicts what residents remember from the meeting. A resident told ELL: “It was very upsetting when she walked out. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone talk and act like that to another person. I felt really bad that somebody would speak to people like that – and the fact that it was the Cabinet Member I think is even worse.”
Another resident added: “It was very disgusting actually. She had a strop, it was embarrassing.”
Councillors Liam Shrivastava and Aisha Malik-Smith both admitted at the meeting there were flaws during the consultation period and confirmed it was added to the agenda for this reason.
Shrivastava told ELL: “We are committed to listening to every residents’ view on the sustainable streets consultation, which is the reason why we added it to the agenda of the Assembly. A range of views were shared at the meeting on road safety, sustainable transport and air quality and we’ve worked hard to ensure our constituents’ voices are heard.”
The scheme is a part of council plans to lower emissions in the area and to stop people commuting from Lewisham, as other boroughs are introducing charges. With parking permits set to be introduced in Deptford and controlled parking zones in Southwark, there are now concerns that Evelyn could be targeted by commuters with New Cross Gate station nearby.
The parking permit scheme is part of Lewisham’s Sustainable Streets programme, with money from the parking permits funding transportation projects like club car parking bays. Funds will also be invested into cycle hangars, better bike lanes, safer junctions, and more crossings.
Lewisham Council told ELL: “Extensive consultation was carried out in Evelyn and New Cross Gate on our Sustainable Streets proposals, with information leaflets delivered to over 8,000 properties in the area and more than 110 lamppost wraps installed on streets in the consultation zone.
Targeted door-knocking was also carried out in areas with low response rates, with over 270 properties visited, to ensure as many people were engaged in the consultation as possible. We received over 550 responses to the survey and are currently in the process of analysing the results of the survey to inform next steps.”
The council said the consultation only covered a small part of New Cross Gate ward and related mainly to streets in Evelyn: ‘’There may have been people in attendance at the meeting this week who were not consulted because the proposals did not relate to their streets.”