COMMENT: Residents fighting for their parking

By Tim Sutton

parking q

After eight years of excuses from Lambeth Council, Brixton Hill residents are still campaigning to get the review they were promised back in 2006 when their No Parking scheme was introduced.

The collection of roads east of Brixton Hill, referred to as “Controlled Parking Zone ‘Q’”, were one of the first enforced parking areas south of Brixton Town Centre. This was initially welcomed by locals who at the time were plagued by commuters clogging up their streets and being used as the Tube Station car park.

The initial questionnaire sent to residents was pretty basic and only asked what times the cars arrived in the morning and when they left in the evening? (There was no mention of how parking schemes could work using shorter hours). However, this was not thought to be of too much concern as the Council also promised further community consultation after a six month trial period.

But that consultation never happened and ever since residents have been stuck with a whopping ten hours no parking restriction, Monday to Friday; a scheme many believe is designed to create maximum revenue for Lambeth Council rather than solve any local parking problems.

Streets affected are Josephine Avenue, Appach Road, Leander Road, Helix Road, Helix Gardens and Arodene Road.

Interestingly, subsequent Controlled Parking Zones implemented south towards Streatham have not adopted these long ten hours restrictions, opting instead for shorter two hour periods which have proved to work just as effectively at deterring commuter parking while not inconveniencing the people who live there.

The local resident association, The Josephine Avenue Group, has asked numerous times over the years why the promised review never happened? This has been answered by claims that both the then local councillor and the chairman of JAG were asked for their opinion (this has been denied by both parties). Even if true, this is not what residents were promised and there is still no evidence of any community consultation ever taking place.

The most recent action (together with Herne Hill Poets Corner residents who have the same problem) has been a 600 strong petition asking for the hours of operation to be reduced to a more sensible two hours a day. This would deter commuter parking, but still allow residents to receive deliveries, friends to visit, service vehicles to park and normality to return. However this was answered by a dismissive letter from Lambeth Council stating that “We acknowledge the concerns of all residents regarding parking and traffic problems”  but such a review “is often a lengthy and expense process”. The letter finishes by saying “I have made a note of your request so that it can  be followed up when resources become available”. A sentiment heard before by residents and now not believed.

Residents have since been advised by the Ombudsman Service to lodge a formal complaint with the council and, if not satisfied, ask them to investigate why due process has not been followed.

This all comes at a time when the Government is looking to introduce new laws in January allowing residents to challenge Local Government on unfair parking restrictions. Local residents are also becoming distrustful of a Council who claim to be “Cooperative” yet have repeatedly ignored their promise of public consultation and failed to follow due process.

Unlike the Council, campaigners say they will keep their promise, and fight until this battle is won.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I live at the top of Brixton Hill and almost daily see people dump theirs cars as they leave for work, it’s at the start of the 137 bus route for one. there is NEVER anywhere for the residents to park during the day. It’s a total pain, there has also been a van parked on my street for 6 weeks and counting – cars and vans parked for that long without moving should be removed. It’s crazy that you cannot park on your own street or even near by – I’m all in favour of residents parking. Please introduce it in all areas of Brixton – just not for ten hours a day.

  2. Dear Team, I am searching for guidance on how to manage similar problem in my area. The council relocated to a residential part of town centre. There are trying to persuade a private landloard to profit share in parking meters on our lanllords street-so , we residents have no free parking!
    We residents were ‘sold out’ by the planners when properties were built as sufficient parking spaces were not stipulated at planning application stage, we have no visitors parking and the only strip of road that allowed residents to park on is now being negotiated for profit sharing meters by the council. The government parking enforcement policy clearly states that revenue generation should not be the main purpose of parking enforcement! We residents have lived in the area for over 15 years and the council has moved adjacent to a residential streets and has clearly failed to consider the local landscape- which is established! If there were supportive of the local residents the area of street should be permit parking for residents not general parking meters as this fails to consider the local residents…. simply sold out again!

    Would be grateful on how to raise these concerns as I have to park 30 minutes away from my home now and travel with two pre school children to pick up the car should we need to have a car journey- how is this considerate of the local community! Any help would be appreciated.

  3. We in our four roads became part of the CPZ back in January 2012. It took us a whooping 7 years of campaigning, petitioning, residents meetings and writing letters of support to officers and Councillors at Lambeth. We had a consultation that reported in 2010 and it stated at the time that residents were not in favour of the CPZ. This was not our experience in the four roads that were later included in the CPZ. The initial consultation was doomed to fail as it consulted a much wider area that were not really experiencing any parking problems so of course their vote would alter the result. We had little or barely any support from our local Councillors at the time and it was basically a residents lead campaign. When Cllr Ling was elected in 2010 she did work hard for our cause and after all her hard work the CPZ was in place before her untimely death last year. Before the CPZ our road were little more than a car park and a park and ride. Vans, cars would park up outside houses for either days, weeks or the most was a van outside someone’s front window that never moved for 8 months. There were often fights as once cars are parked on both sides there are no passing places and drivers did not want to have to reverse so would sit and simply sound their horns. There was never anywhere for residents to park their cars if they owned one these often had damage by other drivers attempting to pass too closely. On one occasion an ambulance could not get down the road due to the congestion. Residents would often be woken at 5.30 by commuters parking up to go to the tube station or Tuls Hill station. Car alarms would sound but the driver would be miles away at work. Many drivers had the peace of a CPZ where they lived as they had permits for areas as far as Harrow and as close as Wandsworth yet thought they could blight our road and community. The list goes on. Our CPZ was overwhelmingly supported by our four roads. We have the 2 hour restriction with a limit of 1 hour waiting only so this deters the commuters as they will get a parking ticket yet residents can still have visitors from the utilities etc during the day free of charge if it is an afternoon visit. What a difference it has made, hope that Lambeth Council eventually takes on board the requests of these residents, although we in this CPZ know what a hard and difficult slog that can be.

  4. If these restrictuons really were to stop people using the area as a tube station car park, having a much shorter, say 2 hr, no parking time in the middle of the day would be all that’s needed to solve this (As with Endymion Road). All zones could be like this. Obviously it’s a revenue making scam.

    Meanwhile, why not sell visitor’s permits in local shops? Like other boroughs do. No. We have to take time off work to queue up and get them from the Lambeth parking shop.

  5. As a Brixton Hill resident, I have to agree to the criticism towards Lambeth Council. Our road was also under review for CPZ and the whole process was a complete mess.
    While so many other London councils offer a 2 hour only controlled parking time it seems that Lambeth doesn’t have the will or ability to accommodate it – and while they claim the latter, we, the public, have never had an explanation why.
    2 hour control zones are the right way forward and are an effective way of control commuter parking with minimum disruption to local residents and community.

    I think Lambeth Council really do need to explain and clarify what is going on.

    Sean: as much as I agree with you on the environmental issues, there is an element of reality required in your argument. Like many other car owners in SW2, I use public transport as much as I can but also need my car for work and family reasons …and I don’t drive it into central London. Its easy to generalise.

  6. I think you will find that the the effect of shortening the control period will not affect local car ownership, as residents pay the same for their permit no matter how long the restrictions are, it particular affects visitors and trades people who come from out of town.

  7. To be honest I have little sympathy. These homes are very close to great public transport links including the underground, so for more journeys cars are unnecessary. In these circumstances most people living here could do fine with car sharing schemes instead. Vehicle ownership just encourages unnecessary use, increasing NO2 emissions which knock years of Londoners lives. I live a good half mile from a tube station, and have a product based business that relies on buying and selling of goods on a daily basis – about half a pallet per day, and still manage without owning a motor vehicle. If people really do have to drive then car sharing schemes are available and aren’t effected by parking restrictions. Further electric vehicles can often park for free in charging spots around Brixton, so not not switch to a Tesla or other non vehicle that isn’t knocking years off the life of your fellow Londoner.

    • Very well said Sean – car owners love moaning about parking and CPZs and are so addicted to their vehicles they can’t see the enormous harm they inflict on the environment and the lungs of all us who are forced to breathe in their toxic emissions. I walk and cycle everywhere in London – there is no need to use a car living in Zone 2, it is selfish and irresponsible. The CPZ charge should be doubled and the extra revenue should be donated to asthma and child protection societies.

    • I read somewhere that 15% of traffic on our roads is people just driving around looking for somewhere to park. The more parking restrictions we have, the worse it gets.

      • Our 2 hour restriction CPZ in SW2 is the best thing to stop our roads being used as a car park. We endured years of cars and vans clogging up our roads whilst their owners went to work for the day. They would arrive early in their cars, banging doors, music blarring and revving engines looking for somewhere to park. Return in the evening and repeat the process. Many houses in Lambeth have frontages feet away from the kerbside so this is all heard indoors. Cars would be left for weeks and never move. If an alarm should sound – there is nothing you could do as the owner wasn’t from your immediate streets. Drivers are very protective of their parking place so I can recall many standoffs in the middle of our street, it is a residential road and part of the community not a car park or place to ruin and blight the lives of those who live there. That 15% you quote could well be the people who live in a CPZ and want to avoid paying for a permit so move their vehicle around the non CPZ roads which explains why they never moved for weeks?

        • Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favour of the CPZ. But it only needs to be for acouple of hours to stop commuters, and allow visitors for people who live in the streets – without having to fill out forms and wait for them to arrive!

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