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Protestors rally against a contentious new parking policy

Sutton Council accused of exploiting data to push through paid parking scheme

Campaigners have accused Sutton Council of misusing figures on stress parking to justify a new Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) around Worcester Park.

Members of the Controlled Parking Residents Forum, founded in late 2018, express concerns that residents have not been properly consulted over a new scheme launched today on Longfellow Road, designed to give priority to residents and their visitors to use parking spaces in the area.

Campaigners argue that Sutton Council has exaggerated support for the scheme and underplayed complaints against existing parking controls in order to tax drivers and cut car use.

The council claims that it has received numerous complaints from disgruntled residents over parking availability in the Worcester Park area and by implementing weekday parking zones, it hopes to stop commuters leaving vehicles on stressed roads in peak times.

Opponents claim that only eight formal complaints have been made over parking in the last five years.

A further 39 complaints have been lodged against existing CPZ and Permit Parking Areas – another permit-based parking restriction – across Sutton in the last 24 months.

Campaigner Sebastian Fisher-Greene, who has lived in the borough for 23 years, said: “The council claimed the creation of CPZ zones was due to complaints about commuters.

“Their ‘motivation’ is to reduce private car use by 70% in Sutton in favour of increasing cycle usage to 3%, according to their own Draft Transport Policy.

“​​There is nothing justified or valid about this scheme. All the data supplied is incorrect at best or lies at worst, to try and justify the council’s own reasons for implementing this highly discriminatory and hyper localised tax. 

“Sutton Council has tried to create a problem to solve – i.e. that of commuters – but as its own data shows, it is all incorrect.”

An unpublished consultation on CPZs in the Sutton area reveals that only 52 residents supported the initiative of a collected 788 votes, equivalent to 6.6%.

However, the council claims to have amended the scheme since the outcome of the report, and says that this data gives an incomplete picture.

Jenny Batt, councillor for Worcester Park, said: “This part of Worcester Park has had long-standing issues with parking and in particular parking from commuters, and it is important to note that the first two stages of the consultation process showed support from residents for parking controls in this area. 

“The final amended scheme has taken into account many of the objections and will help to prioritise parking for residents but will allow for free weekend parking that avoids the need for visitors during these times to purchase and display visitor vouchers.

“This scheme will also allow for shoppers to park near to the shops with some pay and display bays near to the High Street. 

“We were keen to hear all views in the area and the final scheme will not adversely affect the Sports Club in Green Lane which is a popular and valued local asset in the community.’’

Councillor Batt added that the eight formal complaints lodged over parking in the last five years had been sent directly to the council, where residents complain about council services.

She added that emails and other contact from residents to councillors would not be included in this figure.

Resident Stephen Porter said: “We are very pleased that the council is addressing the problem with parking in Longfellow Road.

“It is really difficult to find a parking space at times and this week, with commuters starting to go back into the office, we have noticed that the problem has got worse again.”

Opponents of the scheme met to protest the new parking zones on Thursday morning and will continue putting pressure on the council to overturn the scheme.

South West Londoner approached Controlled Parking Residents Forum founder Sandra Ackland for comment.

Image: Sebastian Fisher-Greene

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