The Labour-run council’s proposed changes and increases in parking charges are supposed to be based on sensible principles – to reduce emissions, improve air quality, free up kerb space and make parking in Camden fairer and greener. These are principles that the Liberal Democrats support, but sadly many parts of the proposals do not match their stated aims, or even contradict them.
Firstly, removing scratch cards for visitor permits would badly affect vulnerable and/or elderly residents who tend to rely on them and may struggle with the online system. Is it fair to expect them to depend on the council’s unreliable phone system, to arrange parking for the visits they need for healthcare, social or other reasons? Not fair at all.
Secondly, increasing parking charges for car clubs would discourage investment by car clubs in Camden, reducing the quality and range of options. This makes no sense as car clubs are an important pathway for reducing car use and ownership in Camden, as recognised by the council’s own policies. Not green.
Thirdly, hiking parking charges for electric vehicles by 300-400% sends a very negative message to people and organisations thinking of switching to electric vehicles, as well as to investment in Camden’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Not fair or green.
Fourthly, how is it fair to treat motorbikes the same as cars and hike up their charges, given they have much lower lifetime emissions, contribute far less to congestion and take up far less kerb space? Not fair and not green.
In addition to these specific concerns, it is also unclear how the proposed support package for people who will struggle to pay the increased charges will actually work. It is unclear how the complex system of surcharges for visitor permits would work. It is unclear what limiting permits to one vehicle would mean. We think that asking the people of Camden for their views on the proposals, when these crucial bits of information were missing or vague is not fair.
Parking charges in Camden are already among the highest in London. The large increases in these proposals would make the borough an outlier, and would do so in a way that is neither fair nor green. The proposals would harm vulnerable people in Camden and risk pushing people away from greener forms of transport. The Labour administration needs to think again.