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Merton Council to scrap emissions-based parking charges

Merton Council wants to scrap plans to introduce an emissions-based charging scheme for parking.

The council’s Labour Cabinet announced on 23 September that it is looking to formally halt the plans at a meeting on 11 October, citing worries increased parking costs will have on residents.

On 22 September, Council Leader Mark Allison told BBC Radio London that he would scrap the price rises.

Owners of cars that emit more pollution would have faced higher parking costs under the proposal.

Councillor and Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health Rebecca Lanning said: “Merton residents have had a hard time during the pandemic and, with thousands still struggling to make ends meet, we recognise that increased charges would have impacted on residents who have been furloughed or made redundant.

“Too many families are now facing a cut to universal credit, a hike in energy costs this winter, plus a substantial rise in National Insurance contributions in the spring.

“We don’t want to add to this burden.”

A report outlining the measure had been approved by the Council’s Cabinet in January 2021 following a consultation.

The current system already charges more to car owners who live close to public transport hubs, and less to owners of electric vehicles.

Councillor Daniel Holden, Deputy Leader of Merton Conservative Group and Conservative Spokesman for Environment, said: “If Merton Labour do u-turn on their policy of charging motorists hundreds of pounds more to park their cars it would be thanks to a sustained campaign from Conservative Councillors, residents groups and the local community.”

Councillor Anthony Fairclough, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, was critical of the scheme, saying it was unlikely to improve air quality.

The Liberal Democrats are pushing for the implementation of clean air zones in the borough to tackle the issue instead.

As part of the council’s Air Quality Action Plan, the option of clean air zones was to be considered through a feasibility study, which was deferred due to funding.

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