Posts Tagged ‘parking’

Short stay car park for Hither Green Lane (with poll)

February 4, 2010

Lewisham borough presents a variety of local parades, some are very successful, some less so.
Today Brockley Central posted an item about Honor Oak Park, which is probably as good as it gets and should be used as a benchmark for what a local parade can aspire to, and discusses the implications of parking policies for the shops of the area. The Council has in fact revealed that preventing commuters from leaving their car parked all day there has helped shops.

I thought that this is also an argument in support of short stay car park to help shops on Hither Green Lane, that today can only draw trade from pedestrians as the Lane is completely surrounded by CPZ.
Some short stay car park for shoppers could be provided either on the side roads or by building parking bays on the Lane and in the past I have already put this proposal to the Head of Highways of Lewisham Council.

But is there popular support for this measure?

Out and about with James – weekend roundup

October 26, 2009

Jamie_Billboard

This is James Jennings, who is also running for Council for Lewisham Central for the Libdems at next elections. Me and James were out leafleting last Saturday,  here he is on Hither Green Lane, standing in front of the famous forgotten billboard. I can actually remember the poster when it was new, but that was quite some years ago. I remember when the glue gave up and it became a sail that eventually broke off, I then saw what’s left fade. I think that it’s now time to change it, so I emailed a photo to the Council (without James in it). Let’s see what happens.

George-hoarding-450pxJames took instead this photo of me (badly in need of a haircut) at the bottom of George Lane where finally London & Quadrant erected a hoarding to start works on the site of the George Pub to build this mixed use development.

I want to thank Cllr Dave Edgerton for putting a lot of pressure on L&Q to remove the honeytrap that that stretch of pavement had been transformed into (see my previous post on this matter).

I still find it hard to believe that a housing association, whose purpose  is to serve the public, decided to set such an operation on the main road and just by a Job Centre, it’s bad enough being fined £500 for missing a very confusing no parking sign, but if you’re unemployed then having to fork out £500 to  get your car back can make the difference between having a roof over the head or not, especially in a recession like this one.

Last month I submitted a question at Council about it and when I read the reply I really felt quite angry, I didn’t expect Lewisham Council to just copy and paste from an email from L&Q in turn forwarding an email from the parking company (I received such email whilst dealing with L&Q directly).

At the Council meeting I used my right to a verbal supplementary question to express my astonishment at the unwillingness of the Council to engage with a major partner of theirs to make this operation cease and to be true for once the verbal response that I received was better than the written one and was told that they understood my point and would have tried to do what I suggested, i.e. contact L&Q and discuss it with them. I think that the fact that I wasn’t trying to score points but only to stop an activity which is antisocial in all but legal terms did come out.

Anyway, the honeytrap is gone now and work on site should start soon. Pity about the George pub (here in historic context), but it closed because of years of increasingly appalling management, a real pub suicide. It was sold to L&Q that received planning consent for this development and was boarded up and allowed to become a major eyesore with a parking honeytrap on the front. In my opinion the sooner they build there the better it is.

Commiserations also about another historic pub, the nearby Rising Sun, also on Rushey Green, the second pub to commit suicide within a few hundred metres. It was closed by the police because it had become a drug dealing centre and never reopened again. The pub stands in front of an enormous plot of land smack in the middle of Catford and now a developer has submitted this planning application for housing on the site.

News of the application was posted on the Hither Green Forum, I downloaded the documents and uncharacteristically I thought that it was actually quite good, and so I commented on the online forum. The comment was noticed by Micheal Stringer of the South London Press that contacted me asking me if I wanted to elaborate for the paper, and here’s the article that will make my reputation as a destroyer of pubs.

Rising-Sun-SLP

But Catford won’t go without beer, in less than a minute walk from there there is a very popular Wetherspoon, the London & Rye, and in another further minute walk the Goose and then the Ram, which is also excellent. There is also another smaller  pub near the Rising Sun that looks on its way out though, the Plough and Arrow is now sporting a sign that says that soon a hair and nails salon will soon operate from there.

To close this post “keeping it real” here’s a rare insight of Libdem party life recorded for posterity at Lewisham’s finest fish and chips place. At the excellent “Something Fishy” of Lewisham market my running mate James seeks my support for a seat at the party’s English Council.

Daily Mail jumps on my bandwagon

September 12, 2009

Only two days ofter my posting on rogue clamping in Lewisham and my call for the Council to do something about it the Daily Mail starts a campaign against Cowboy Clampers.

The article in the Mail gives some good legal background and call this activity a legalized mugging. According to the mail this is a completely unregulated activity and until legislation is introduced clampers are in their right to do whatever they want and suggest what new legislation should say.

I am not completely convinced that there isn’t anything that can already be done. Couldn’t this fall into street trading? It is indeed private land but open to public access.
One could say that trading has to do with the exchange of goods, I’d say that trading involves all economic activities, and clamping is definitely one.

The Council’s policy is to:

“oppose all street trading other than from areas approved by the Council where highway safety will not be impaired. For such sites a trader’s licence must be obtained from us”

So, if the legal definition of trading includes all economic activities then this could mean that Councils are already in the position to stop rogue clampers by denying licences for those sites not approved by the Council.

And if there were legal reasons why this would not work then all the legislation that’s needed is an extension of street trading to include clamping and a set of rules for the standards that need apply in order to obtain and retain a licence for this specific activity.

The Honeytrap

September 10, 2009

This is a video of an arrest made on 2nd July on the forecourt of the former George Pub on the corner of George Lane and Rushey Green SE13.

I don’t know exactly the details of the offence that motivated the arrest, I’m investigating the details, but the root cause is a parking offence, and one that is quite easily done here.

As you can see from the picture of the site there aren’t in fact visible no parking signs on the forecourt of the former George Pub, the sign that should clearly say “no parking” says instead “warning” and is placed quite high up on the wall, making it very difficult to read in full unless one stands in front of it and looks up, something that is not possibly done from a car.
It is also only one of many signs, the others saying that the building is watched by a security company, others that the building has been acquired by London and Quadrant Housing Association. The building appears in fact to be a complete eyesore so cluttered of signs it is.
And so it is easy to miss the warning and park there, and at that point, once you walk out the clampers arrive in a matter of minutes, the car is clamped and removed and you get a fine exceeding £400.

george-forecourt

To make matter worse the forecourt in question is next door to the Job Centre and in the middle of a Controlled Parking Zone where only residents can park. You get the picture, man loses his job, drives to the job centre and gets a £400 fine.

These fines have in fact provoked scenes of desperation with people trying to prevent the clampers removing their cars by sitting in them while the clampers try to tow them away or even sitting on top of the vehicles, and as you can see from this video this has also lead to public disorder.

That’s why I have now asked the Council to do something about it with a formal question to be answered at next Council meeting:

Parking firms often set up no parking zones that lack clear signage but impose extremely heavy fines for infractions.
One of these sites is currently operating in Lewisham on the forecourt of the former George Pub (now owned by London and Quadrant) on the corner between George Lane and Rushey Green.
The signage is easily missed as it is not a standard no parking design, its large print says “warning” rather than “no parking” and the signs are also set quite high up on the walls of the former pub above other signs giving instead notice that the building is looked after by a security company.
Fines for parking there can exceed £400 and confrontations between motorists and the operators have provoked issues with public order.
It is private land but it is open to the public and at first sight it looks like an open invitation to park your car, one could very easily call it a honeytrap.

Are there ways for the Council to regulate such activities so that unaware members of the public are not damaged by unscrupulous operators.

We cannot allow rogue traders to fleece members of the public to the tune of £400 for a minor mistake that is so easily done.

I don’t know exactly the terms of their operation but it seems to me that it’s a commercial operation and as such should be subjected to licensing regulation, and if it causes public disorder then it is an even stronger case for regulation.

Why the not standard no parking signs, and why are they placed in a way that’s not easy to read?

Warning

And why not just replacing the bollards that once stood there? Once that forecourt was protected by bollards because the pub had tables outdoor, but some of the them were removed by the last management, if the bollards had been reintroduced parking there would have been impossible.

Me and Cllr Dave Edgerton wrote to London and Quadrant but they really can’t see anything wrong with this.
That’s why I have now submitted a question at Council on this very matter.

Council profiteering

July 10, 2008

An update on the previous post. Thanks to a tip by the ever well informed Biccy on the Hither Green Forum I realized that the increase on CPZ tariffs was decided by none other than the Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock in a very clear bogus budget savings exercise.

We were always told that the CPZ tariff pays for the cost of its management, not that it is supposed to fund other Council’s expenditures, this is in effect a Council tax increase.

We are always told that services like these are outsourced to external contractors because they can keep the operational costs down and deliver better value for money. We have never been told that the local authority would then intervene with some good old poaching by raising the tariffs and pocketing the difference.

And how fair is it that people living within CPZ areas pay in effect a bigger Council tax than those living outside CPZ areas. I have no objection to paying for its running, I quite like the result, what I object to is the profiteering and very sadly this time it doesn’t come from the private partners but from the Council itself.

Here’s some relevant passages from the Mayor and Cabinet papers of 5th March 2008, item 8 that show the utter hypocrisy behind this increase:

The purpose of this report is to provide the Mayor with the detail of increased parking charges. The additional income was proposed as part of the Revenue Budget Savings Proposal Report 08/09 that was considered by Mayor & Cabinet in December 2007. The proposed increases put forward will generate £500k total income, £273k to be used as part of the budget savings exercise and £250k to fund highways prudential borrowing as set out in the Highways Best Value Review…

The Revenue Budget Savings Proposal report gave a broad brush indication on how the increased income could be achieved. This income generation was to be applied in three ways. Firstly, £192k via an increase to the resident permit charge. Secondly, through an increase to the resident visitor permit charge and thirdly by applying a 15% increase to the pay & display tariff charges both on and off street.

In the light of this new element I am now stopping the petition, this is the message that I sent to the two other people that signed it during the handful of hours it was active:

Thank you for your support, I closed the petition so suddenly because I learned something I didn’t know yesterday, that the rise in tariff came out of a decision of the Mayor in what is a bogus budget saving exercise, In effect an increase of Council Tax dressed as something else. Details of this are available in the Mayor and Cabinet Papers of 5th March 2008, item 8. I still think to start a petition to introduce transparency for Council contracts but that will have to be independent from the CPZ issue.

Stop profiteering! (petition)

July 10, 2008

A yearly resident parking permit for my “controlled parking zone”(CPZ) road has just risen to £60, that’s a 41.6% increase from last year’s £35.

The fact that this unjustifiable squeeze of the public comes at a very tight economic time for all makes it all the more loathsome.

But this is not even the bitterest point, the real issue is that we can’t even know the content of the contract between the London Borough of Lewisham and the contractor because it is of course “commercially sensitive”. We can’t know why we’re being asked so much more than last year or whether they can actually impose such an increase. And if they can, why was the contract drafted so badly that there aren’t any guarantees against such arbitrary and exorbitant price increases?

I do think that we’ve been badly served and that there’s a need for something to be done about it, and this is all the more important as we know that a large and increasing number of public services are being outsourced.

It’s all very good to contain Council tax increase but that’s only relatively good news if other public services contracted out by the Council see price increases of 41.6%, an amount that can only be described as obscene.

Let’s ask Lewisham Council to re-tender the contract for CPZ in Lewisham at once and  let’s make this an opportunity for introducing a simple and transparent guarantee against this particular brand of profiteering in public services.

Let’s make it a rule that when a contractor wants to apply a higher than reasonable price increase then he also has to re-apply for the contract.

Council departments running out of money within a financial year need to ask for extra funding and following the same principle the contractor wishing to extract more money out of the public in between contracts should need to justify this as a need, not greed, with the local administration.

Let’s ask that such clause be included in future contracts!

That’s why I’m now asking you to sign this petition:

We the undersigned ask Lewisham Council to rescind the contract with the current CPZ operator because of the sudden and unreasonable 40% price increase imposed to the public in this historical moment when prices of public services ought to be more then ever under control.

We also ask that any future contract between the Council and its contractors include a clause stating that contractors wishing to increase their prices above a certain reasonable amount (amount to be made known to the public) need to re-apply for the contract.

Clic here to sign this petition.

http://www.gopetition.com/online/20424.html