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Agenda item

Public health and air quality - a review of parking charges 2


At the invitation of the Chair, the Panel heard representations from Sustainable Merton, LOVE Wimbledon and a local resident.

Diana Sterck from Sustainable Merton explained they fully support the measures set out in the Air Quality action plan but urged the council to use positive communication and other proactive campaigns to encourage changes in driver behaviour instead of pursuing higher parking charges. She asked what action is being taken by the Council on buses as high polluters and fleet vehicles.

Sara Sharp, local resident said that she thought the proposals discriminated against residents in Wimbledon and doubted that the proposals would have an impact on pollution, she thought drivers would seek avoidance measures such as paving over gardens and asked whether there was any evidence that increasing charges would reduce pollution in the borough.

Helen Clark Bell from LOVE Wimbledon said it was regrettable that the business community had not been involved in the development of the strategy so far, questioned the impact that the proposals would have on the level of traffic and whether these proposals would affect trade in the town centre. She quoted that 60% of traffic in Wimbledon is through traffic, and recently Putney changed their buses to Hybrid models and air pollution was reduced by 93%. She requested that the policy of charging for parking after 6pm be reviewed. She also expressed dissatisfaction at the quality of town centre parking, it is not well lit and substandard services are not well maintained.

In response to the speakers, the Director of Environment and Regeneration wished to emphasize that the desired impact of this proposal is improving air quality. Traffic management is one of the methods we have to do it. A lot of work has gone into making the charges proportionate and reasonable and they will be reviewed. The Council will aim to encourage people not to idle in their cars, and do plan to clean up the passenger transport fleet by reducing vehicles where possible and switching to cleaner electric vehicles, we recognise that car parks need to be invested in also and confirmed the business community will have an opportunity to comment during the consultation period.


In response to panel member’s questions, the Director of Environment and Regeneration clarified the following;

  • The Council are planning three policy changes including the diesel levy, parking charge increase and emissions based scheme. Although we don’t currently have an I.T system that can support the emissions based policy at present, we are in the process of procuring one. The Director of Public Health also added there is evidence to support that behaviour change is most effective when done with a multi tool approach.
  • All parts of the borough are different but overall Wimbledon has the better access to public transport.
  • We are in the process of completing our Local Implementation Plan, looking at the transport in Mitcham, the Sutton Link consultation, bus networks and investing more in cycling infrastructure.
  • Although the report states the top polluted roads are in Mitcham and Morden, the Council are seeking to improve air quality across the whole borough.
  • He agreed there is a need for further investment in cycling infrastructure.
  • Merton will go beyond the statutory duty of twenty one days for a consultation. They have chosen to extend it to twenty eight days and will invite residents to comment also.

A panel member proposed the Panel debate a recommendation to refer the policy to full Council as the Panel considers it to be outside the budget and/or policy framework given there is no evidence presented that the scheme will lead to lower levels of car ownership and reduced vehicle movements.

As highlighted by para 2.2.30 of the report, policy on parking charges cannot solely be a revenue-raising strategy, and yet without the presentation of any evidence-base or analysis, can it really be claimed that when setting the charges, there has been a clear focus on issues such as traffic management and the sustainability objectives? There are also no means or benchmarks to measure the success.

The Chair referred the matter to the Head of Democracy Services who advised that after consultation with the Monitoring Officer, they were both in agreement that the proposal falls within the Budget and Policy Framework. In terms of the Budget Framework, The report sets out that the Council cannot take into account the financial consequence of its powers to make traffic parking orders. It is an irrelevant consideration which must be ignored (see principle g) in article 13).


It would be unlawful to take the financial implications into account and the decision cannot therefore be a budget decision, and cannot be outside the budget framework. It is not outside the Council’s policy framework as the proposal falls with the Cabinet’s Air Quality strategy and does not run counter to any of the policies approved by full Council.

The motion to refer the matter to Council on the basis that the proposal falls outside the Budget and Policy Framework was seconded by Councillor Daniel Holden and formally moved to a vote. Three voted in favour, four against. Motion fell

Councillor Daniel Holden raised a motion that recommended to Cabinet that targeting one half of the borough and not the other is deeply unfair on the residents of Wimbledon and Raynes Park and that until such time that the public transport links, and by association air quality, are improved in Mitcham, the parking tax proposals be rejected. This was seconded by Councillor Nick Mclean and moved to a vote. Three voted in favour, four against. Motion fell.

Councillor Daniel Holden raised a motion that refers back to the Cabinet that a different solution is needed to help bridge the health gap between the East and West of the borough which the current proposal does not achieve was seconded by Councillor Nick Mclean and moved to a vote. Two votes in favour, five against, one abstention. Motion fell.


Panel resolved (five votes for, two against and one abstention) to make the following reference to Cabinet:

The Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel welcomes this opportunity to comment on the report and to raise issues for consideration by Cabinet. The Panel recognises the need to improve public health and air quality in the borough and welcomes this attempt to use the parking charges strategy as one of the levers to address these important issues. The Panel has previously taken an active role in scrutinising air quality issues and has examined the link between air quality, vehicle emissions and traffic speed through pre-decision scrutiny and two call-ins relating to the diesel levy. Cabinet is asked to note that the Panel plans to monitor the implementation of the diesel levy to assess whether the policy is beginning to have an impact on desired outcomes. The Panel also plan to take an active role in contributing to the terms of reference for a review of the levy in 2019/20.

The Panel request that Cabinet should receive additional evidence to demonstrate that increasing parking charges results in a decrease in traffic, and on the link between higher costs for high polluting cars and changing the behaviour of drivers.

The Panel welcomes Cabinet’s plan for public consultation on these proposals and recommends that Cabinet share the results with the Panel so that it can contribute additional thoughts prior to a final decision being made by Cabinet.

The Panel also welcomes the review planned 6-12 months after implementation of the new charges (paragraph 2.3.26 of the report) and recommends that the Panel also has an opportunity to carry out pre-decision scrutiny of the findings.


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