Council admit Chiswick parking charges unjustified

Councillor on Hounslow Borough's executive concedes basis for higher permit charges is unsound

In what appears to be a major climb down on the issue of higher permit charges in Chiswick, a leading councillor has stated that "there doesn't seem to be a lot of justification for the difference." Councillor Ruth Cadbury is the member of the executive with responsibility for transport matters. The statement was made to a local newspaper and not denied when she was contacted by

Cllr. Cadbury recently published a wide-ranging report on parking issues in which she recommended a reduction of the permit charge for Chiswick but not down to levels prevailing elsewhere in the borough. At the same time penalty charges are to rise substantially.

Several reasons have previously been put forward by the council as to why Chiswick was paying up to twice the level of other areas in the borough. These included better transport links and the cost of implementation. Opponents of higher charges believe these justifications have been thoroughly discredited. Data from Transport for London appears to show that Hounslow Town Centre, which has the lowest charges, has the best transport links in the borough and the West Chiswick scheme will be paying the higher charge despite the fact is being paid for out of funds derived from Chiswick Business Park for improved transport links and is therefore costing the Council nothing.

Cllr. Cadbury's report says that the higher charges are set "to reflect the highest levels of demand". Cllr. Peter Thompson described this claim as "rubbish" pointing out that survey by the Council recently showed that there was under usage in permit controlled areas within Chiswick.

A local resident commented on the discussion forum, "the real reason is that the Labour party is happy to take more money from this part of the borough because their core support is not based here. " In the financial year to March 2001 Hounslow Council raised over £3mn from parking related fees with over 70% of that coming from Chiswick. The Council, last year, attempted to have Chiswick put into the top band for penalty charges but the authorities rejected their case due to insufficient evidence.

With Council revenue under pressure from changes to the level of central government funding they are becoming increasingly dependent on fee based revenues. New legislation will give them powers to collect revenues from fines for bus lane violations and littering. Concern has been expressed that the focus of collection of these fines will be in this part of the borough.

The report on parking remains a proposal and all the changes are subject to further consultation including the level of parking charges. Parking related revenue from Chiswick forms a significant part of Hounslow Borough so even if it is conceded that the charges must be standardised, it may be impossible to do so from a financial point of view

March 30, 2003

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