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Residents’ Parking

A Member of The Chelsea Society, Richard Lee, has commented as follows on the RBKC proposals for changing the Residents’ Parking policy:

As a 50 year resident of RBKC, this is probably the nicest series of villages to live in in the whole of London.  Many of the properties and streets were constructed at a time when the horse & carriage was prevalent and their proportions do not lend themselves to the use of motor vehicles.  More recently, mews properties were converted from housing horses to housing horseless carriages but the escalating value of property has meant that it makes more economic sense to convert them into dwellings, which puts more pressure on residents having to park on the street.

Interestingly, different councils in London adopt different measures and I comment on them below:

  1. RBKC allows someone with a resident’s parking permit to park anywhere in the borough while other councils have adopted parking zones.  There are a limited number of parking permits in operation in the borough and a limited number of spaces.  That doesn’t change, no matter where in the borough the permit holder wants to park, so why introduce zones?  It’s yet another unnecessary restriction on residents and being able to park anywhere in the borough is a perk for residents, that is free for the council to give and free for the resident to enjoy.  Conclusion: keep it as it is.
  2. RBKC issues one car specific permit per resident, other boroughs, such as Westminster, issue one permit per resident but allow alternative index marks to be listed on the same permit, subject to them being the property of the named resident or assigned to him/her for their use.  Having multiple index marks on one permit in no way increases the number of vehicles parked in residents’ bays in the borough (one permit only allows the user to occupy one residents’ bay), it just provides a flexibility for someone lucky enough to own more than one vehicle or for someone who needs as part of their job to drive different vehicles on different days.  The other vehicle/s would have to be kept off road or out of the borough but could not occupy another residents’ bay.  Conclusion: permit more than one vehicle to be listed per resident without increasing the parking load in the borough.
  3. Recently, parking permission appears to have been effected online, with traffic wardens presumably having access to a central database to verify if a car is permitted or not.  While that is more efficient and must save costs, it precludes a resident from being in a position to know if any particular vehicle is occupying a residents’ bay without a permit.  It is the same nowadays with Vehicle Excise Duty, you can no longer tell at a glance if a vehicle has paid road tax or not.  Conclusion: on balance, a more immediate and paperless system has more upsides than downsides and should be retained.
  4. Residents’ permits are charged at different rates dependent on the level of emissions their vehicle produces.  This is already done effectively by central government in the VED and as a residents’ permit is for parking (when a vehicle produces no exhaust emissions), this sliding charge is effectively an unwarranted and unnecessary double taxation penalty dependent on the residents’ choice of car.  Conclusion: scrap sliding charges based on emissions levels.
  5. Households with different occupants of the same property requiring parking permits are surcharged on the second and subsequent permits issued.  Conclusion: given the demand for parking in the borough, this is reasonable.
  6. There have been suggestions that permits should be charged by length of vehicle.  Safety provisions, including front and rear crumple zones have mandated that vehicles have grown by about a metre over time: an original 1964 Mini that was 3.1m is now 4m, an Escort/Focus is 4.4m, a Mondeo 4.9m and a large car is 5.4m.  A difference of just a metre between small and large is negligible and more than offset by the differences in the amount of space different people leave front and back when parking their vehicles.  Were the council to introduce a charge by length of vehicle, there would need to be additional charges for cycle racks or tow bars that protrude beyond the vehicle’s standard length and a charge for people who park inconsiderately.  Conclusion: impractical and unworkable.
  7. Spaces that double as residents’ parking and pay to park.  A proportion of spaces could be used to provide flexible parking for residents/visitors.  Conclusion: if experiential information is not available, undertake a study.  If information is available, run a pilot scheme and seek feedback.
  8. Charging bays: electric vehicles have no garages to go to on demand when they need refuelling.  Therefore, it is essential that there are sufficient charging points available.  The number of points available in the borough is growing rapidly but many, especially, the ones on lampposts provided by Ubitricity are not reserved to electric vehicles, which means a resident with a permit could leave a non-electric vehicle at one of those points for a week.  Conclusion: mark out a charging bay restricted to electric vehicles within the residents’ parking area and introduce a maximum 12 hour stay for vehicles parking in that bay, plus display an exhortation to leave the bay available for other motorists when charging is complete.
  9. Introduce more echelon and perpendicular parking where practical to increase parking density.  Conclusion: ask residents for suggestions of suitable areas for this type of parking and other ideas, when sending out parking permit reminders.

The Key Decision Report Key decsion on Respark 28.09.20 had not had wide circulation to residents of the borough, although it directly affects almost one in four of them.

I list below some of the immediately obvious flaws in the document and attach a consideration of both pollution and residents’ parking issues in the borough.  Without wishing to detract from the seriousness of the problems, this Key Decision Report appears misguided, partisan and largely irrelevant to making any proposals that will make a difference, even a marginal one, to its declared objective of reducing pollution.  Far from being the ‘ground-breaking initiative’ it claims to be, it misses the point completely!
This “REVIEW OF RESIDENT PARKING PERMIT STRUCTURE” seeks to address pollution issues through the Residents’ Parking Permit Scheme.  Please bear in mind two simple things:
  1. A parked car creates no pollution
  2. According to the published DfT road traffic statistics, the average daily traffic flow through Chelsea along the embankment alone is roughly equal to the total number of residents’ parking permits issued in the whole of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.  Multiply that by all the other routes into and out of the borough and it becomes clear that transient traffic has hundreds/thousands of times more effect on pollution than residents’ vehicles (a number of which barely move from one day to another).  Yet Council Officers seek to address pollution in the borough by charging residents more for vehicles that potentially emit higher levels of CO2. Government already does this, so Council Officers are effectively creating double taxation, while achieving virtually no improvement in pollution levels.  It’s like whistling in the wind!
Detailed comments on paragraphs 4.12 to 4.14 of the proposal:
These paragraphs attempt to provide statistical support for the propositions advanced elsewhere in the proposal.  However:
Table 3 (which doesn’t identify its source data) reports 6,014 pre Euro 6 diesels in the borough which contradicts table 2’s number of 5,776 (a not insubstantial difference of 5%).  Table 3 identifies a total of 9,273 diesel engined cars (not substantiated in table 2 or anywhere else in the document) out of a total residents’ permit population from table 2 of 33,747, or 27.5%, which is higher than the UK national average for 2019.  Given the relative average income of the residents of RKBC, their awareness of green issues and the frequency with which they change their vehicles, a worse than national average performance by RKBC residents must cast doubt over the veracity of the figures underpinning this paper.
Paragraph 4.14 makes some extraordinary and misleading assertions, dividing the borough into north and south and concluding that the wards in the south are far more polluting, “In general, residents’ vehicles in the south of the Borough emit more CO2 than those in the north of the Borough and are also more likely to be diesel.”  In fact, the most polluting wards based on average CO2 reported in table 3 are those in the middle of the borough – Brompton & Hans Town, Queen’s Gate and Abingdon – neither to the north or the south.  With regards to the comment that wards in the south, “ are also more likely to be diesel,” there is no supporting evidence adduced for that claim whatsoever!
THE CHEYNE WALK TRUST has commented as follows:
  • Limit Residential Car Permits? Some support but concerns on how this might be controlled, for example for HMOs or low wage flat sharers. The present number of multi permit households with more than 2 permits in any event is currently insignificant.
  • Limit use of some roads to residents only? Difficult to administer and with adverse impact on family or other visitors such as friends or tradesmen. Non-consulted LTN schemes in adjacent Boroughs have proved extremely problematic and are being vigorously opposed.
  • Directional or alternate (even/odd number plate schemes)? Confusing, difficult to administer and problematic in respect of routine movements in and out of the borough by residents. How would this apply to non-residents?
  • Basing Permits on Vehicle size? Some support for this since it relates to parking bay usage although permits already penalise older and/or more polluting vehicles. May tend to be regressive in impact, adversely affecting those less able to afford the cost of replacing or upgrading their vehicle.
  • More effective control of casual parking areas and undisciplined parking, including delivery drivers, such as in the central Kings Rd area? Very significant support for better planned parking zones and more effective control of what is regarded largely as disruptive and polluting activity, often by visitors working or otherwise.
  • Retain the Status Quo? It has been pointed out that the existing Residents Permit Scheme is already pollution-based and the major revised system being proposed will be an administratively costly means to achieve quite minimal pollution reduction in the light of the small degree of this caused by residents’ vehicles.

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