Residents’ campaign group vows to keep up pressure on Sutton council over Controlled Parking Zones

Sutton residents remain frustrated by the council’s response to their concerns about plans which would require people to buy permits to park outside their homes.

According to Controlled Parking Residents Forum founder, Sandra Ackland, residents have not been properly consulted, some van drivers would not be allowed to leave their work vehicles on their street and a shortage of parking spaces would result.

According to the council’s parking strategy, the aim is to improve air quality and lower congestion by reducing car use in Sutton, which it says has the sixth highest car ownership and usage level of London boroughs. The strategy also says that some residents, for example on single lane roads, have called for controlled parking, but piecemeal implementation has made other areas busier.

Ms Ackland said: “There won’t be enough spaces for us to park legally. We face driving round and round the block trying to find a suitable place to park. I know there are other issues for people with vehicles not registered at home. They are going to struggle.”

Currently residents park on the street outside their house or use a dropped curb. The cost of permits in Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) would vary according to the vehicle’s emissions.

Last week more than 370 residents attended a council meeting at which politicians were angrily heckled.

A member of Ms Ackland’s campaigning team, Robert Ede, said: “Only 3 of the 17 questions that were submitted got answered. Councillor Manuel Abellen spent 40 minutes time-wasting rather than answering the question in a quick and concise way like he did on 6 February.”

Mr Ede analysed parking availability on certain borough roads and concluded that the new plans would cut spaces. For example, on ten streets where there is now a surplus of 135 spaces, there would be 35 too few. He is also frustrated the council refuses to accept results of a survey of residents he conducted and he criticises the overall parking strategy.

“It is not going to be workable in the future,” he said.

A petition opposing the plans in their current form has been signed by 1,556 people and the Controlled Parking Residents Forum has 2,719 Facebook members, a minority of whom are in favour.

Ms Ackland founded the group in December 2018 after stage one of the council’s consultation. She said that many people on her street in St Helier had not even realised their opinions were being sought.

She said the results of the consultation’s first phase were ambiguous as 36% of Sutton respondents backed CPZs while 40% did not. There were 5,324 responses to 43,000 questionnaires distributed, a rate of 12%.

“Why have the council gone ahead with it? About 85% of the borough is not going to have a say. Stage one came with junk mail,” she said.

She would like the council to pause the consultation but is not optimistic.

“We have got to try to get the best deal for the borough. I would like another stage of consultation. I do not think enough people have had their say. My team will keep up the pressure on the council,” she said.

She was dissatisfied with the outcome of the scrutiny committee meeting on 6 February.

She said: “There were so many questions put forward on parking but other than the NI van one the other questions were the easiest. They chose to ignore the more difficult ones to answer.

“It sounds as though they are going to wait for the results of stage two before making any decisions but my worry is that once it enters stage three us residents will no longer have a voice and we will be getting what we’re given.”

Councillor Abellan told the scrutiny committee the NI ban, which means vehicles registered outside the borough, for example used by electricians, cannot get permits, has had little impact since its introduction in 2016. Only 15 renewal permits had been denied in three years.

“It has not been a big issue in Sutton,” he said.

He said that particular concerns have been raised by Saint Helier residents and added: “I have some reservations about the options they would have.”

He will ask officers and residents further questions in order to analyse the issue.

Steve Alvarez, who works in the crane industry, distributes leaflets on the bonnets of vans he believes will fall under the ban.

He said: “People have been losing work as a result of the van ban being introduced. Bosses do not want the bother from people who have to park away from home.”

“It is discrimination against van drivers. But not just builders, many people in other industries such as British Gas.”

“It is not a political campaign. It is just about parking. I don’t know anything about their policies. I just want rubbish taken away, streets cleaned. I moved here from Roehampton because of parking.”

The campaigners’ next meeting with council will be on 25 February.

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