Greenwich Council have finally acknowledged they have a problem with poor parking across the borough which has led to a £10 million budget shortfall.
As 853 reports, at last weeks full council meeting they announced some measures to help. But do they go far enough?
Firstly, they will hire more staff. Cllr Jackie Smith, in charge of Community Safety and Integrated Enforcement, said: “We have had a few more in, we have had permission from the chief executive to go up to our full complement of parking wardens by using temporary wardens”.
There isn’t a number of additional staff mentioned, and what if the full compliment is too low? Numbers employed have been threadbare for at least eight years:
I recall hearing similar last year about hiring extra. Little changed. The addition of more Controlled Parking Zones means a handful of extra staff will achieve little if they have to patrol new zones instead of hot spots such as Plumstead station. Rush hour, midday, weekday, weekend; it doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to the problem.
Eltham’s new £6 million street upgrade is similar. I often pass and pavements are car parks. Saturday night is usually bad. The granite paving will be ruined. In a wheelchair or pushing a buggy? In the road you go.
Greenwich have consistently failed to raise expected budgeted income from parking. It was £3.4 million below in 2015/16 and 2016/17 alone:
It’s more than £10 million since 2012.
Just today a new school has opened at Greenwich Peninsula which will build up to 1,650 pupils. Just a few more staff for new developments and parking zones is running to stand still.
It was also revealed at the meeting was that they’ve outsourced huge swaths of the borough to private company Wing Security. They patrol Housing Department land and certain shopping areas.
In a terrible deal, Greenwich have given them the contract to enforce areas and keep every single penny. They’re throwing money away.
Vast areas such as Abbey Wood estate – site of 3,000 homes – have been given away. Wing appear to rarely, if ever, visit. Poor parking is endemic. I’m there regularly and it’s the same spots day after day – and has been for years.
Greenwich have not only given away the ability to patrol these areas but also receive any income from fines. Baffling at a time of cuts.
One way to make it easier to enforce parking issues would be to reclassify grass verges and certain areas from Housing Department control to Highways Department jurisdiction – and then use a bolstered number of staff to enforce.
At the meeting it was claimed they’ve attempted to hire more staff but failed on two occasions to find anyone. Hmmmm.
That seems to suggest wages are too low. Given wardens would almost certainly be self-funding given the scale of problems, raise the wages?
And why not use GLLaB? It swallows huge chunks of public funds but hardly has any jobs available. At the time of writing it barely lists any. Could it be used?
Another issue is the mention of temporary staff. Why, as new parking zones, new schools and new homes are permanent?
As 853 reported, Greenwich are the second lowest of 32 London Councils and TfL in terms of fines.
Ticketing people for being a centimetre outside a line is not desirable but Greenwich have swung to the other extreme to the detriment of buses and pedestrians – particularly the disabled, elderly and parents.
But the problem is clearly widespread. My mailbox is full of it. Two emails this morning alone. Many pictures sent. People showing me how they’ve contacted Greenwich dozens of times with no impact.
Last week a trial of closing roads by schools started with a Greenwich Council promo blitz. A good idea – yet in Abbey Wood (at least) some parents instead parked and drove on paving just outside the area with no enforcement. Probably as the power to enforce has been given to a company that has little interest in doing so.
Improve streets affected
One of the worst areas is the recently installed £1.2 million bus and cycle lane from Plumstead to Woolwich, It has been reported hundreds of times.
TfL cannot be happy they’ve funded this and yet services are hampered by Greenwich Council. The council at the meeting claimed they were “robust” in enforcing the spot.
What is “robust”? An average of 2.5 ticket per week. With a dozen cars often seen, that is not robust.
With parking revenue ringfenced for transport, the lack of enforcement means less money to begin a cycle of improving streets and the public realm.
Let’s see if new staff actually are hired, and what a full compliment actually consists of. And in addition, when that disastrous out-sourcing contract ends and enforcement brought in house.