Local Buddhists Appeal To Ealing Council Over Their Parking Permits
The Council has stopped issuing parking permits for religious groups in the borough
The head of the London Buddhist Vihara has asked Ealing Council to reconsider its decision to discontinue their parking permits saying it will cause "terrible problems" for their centre in Chiswick which is visited by thousands of people from all over the world.
The Ven Bogoda Seelawimala (below) told chiswickw4.com today that they had a petition of 700 signatures asking for their fifteen parking permits for 'religious groups' to be reinstated. He said the Vihara on The Avenue in Chiswick was the largest outside Asia, and had been visited by members of the Royal Family including Prince Charles and Princess Anne. Visitors came from all over the UK and abroad, and there was no room to create parking spaces outside the listed building.
Ealing Council said that "The increasing cost in administering and enforcing the conditions of the religious permits meant the council could no longer afford to offer a subsidy to religious institutions.”
Liberal Democrat Southfield councillor Gary Malcolm said that Ealing Council had not consulted the Buddhist community in advance and when they sought information had not provided them with answers. They had not been able to plan ahead . The changes came into operation on April 6th but it is understood that the permits for the Vihara run out in July.
"It would have made sense for the council to consult them at the end of last year but they chose not to - A sad state of affairs." Cllr Malcolm has presented the petition to Ealing Council.
There are parking restrictions on The Avenue between 8 am and 6.30 pm Mon-Sat. Pay and Display is available on side streets, and parking charges apply between 9.00 and 6pm Mon-Fri.
The Ven Bogoda Seelawimala, who is the Head Monk, said he hoped to contact other religious groups and churches in the area to get their opinions. "But the difference is that most of them are attended by local people, we have 2,000 people on our mailing list, and many of those who visit us are not local and come from every corner of England. Also we need the permits for food deliveries.
"All we ask is, 'please give us the permits', money is not the most important thing in society."
He said they were told by letter in January that permits for religious groups were being discontinued in the borough. Their permits are due to expire in July. Parking in Pay & Display on nearby streets would not solve the problem for the centre, he added.
A council spokesperson said: “This difficult decision was made following a review of all parking permits the council offers. The increasing cost in administering and enforcing the conditions of the religious permits meant the council could no longer afford to offer a subsidy to religious institutions.”
The Council's website says that from 6th April 2015, religious permits will no longer be available to purchase or renew. Options open to all religious establishments are Service vouchers valid for an hour at a time within the controlled parking zones, or Business Permits, issued annually. Religious establishments can continue to use valid permits up to 6 July 2015.
Refunds will only be issued to applicants who request the refund in writing. Any religious permits seen on the display after 6 July 2015 will be liable for Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).
The London Buddhist Vihara is a leading centre for Theravada Buddhism ad was the first Buddhist monastery to be established outside Asia, in 1926. The Vihara moved to Chiswick in 1964, when it was based. in Heathfield Gardens, but relocated in 1994 to The Avenue.
May 27, 2015