South London council U-turns on plans for new parking charge hike

A South London council has announced it will axe plans to enforce new emissions-based parking charges.

The U-turn was announced last week and is set to be considered by Merton Council’s cabinet next month.

In Wimbledon it would have seen a parking permit increase from £150 to £540 for the most polluting cars, while fully electric cars would have had to pay just £20.

It was set to come into effect in October but the council now says the impact of the pandemic means it may halt the plans.

Opposition councillors from the local Liberal Democrats and Conservative parties raised concerns about the price hike.

At a council meeting last November, Councillor Daniel Holden described the proposal as a “money making cash cow”.

Councillor Rebecca Lanning, cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said the decision to scrap the plans comes after opposition from locals.

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She said: “Merton residents have had a hard time during the pandemic and, with thousands still struggling to make ends meet, we recognise that increased charges would have impacted on residents who have been furloughed or made redundant.

“Too many families are now facing a cut to Universal Credit, a hike in energy costs this winter, plus a substantial rise in National Insurance contributions in the spring. We don’t want to add to this burden.”

She said that even without the increase in parking prices there has already been a shift to less polluting cars

Cllr Lanning added: “Ultimately, we want residents to drive less and the pandemic has helped make this shift. However, it wouldn’t be right to implement emissions-based parking charges at a time when some people still remain cautious about using public transport.”

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