Parking has been and remains one of the most popular and controversial processes we deal with as councillors. As we write this post, all the rest of the ward is becoming part of a Residents’ Parking Zone or RPZ. It’s taken a while, and the process can appear a bit convoluted, so we thought a quick recap would be helpful. This blog post aims to walk through the stages that got us to where we are now.
The beginning: after many impassioned requests and much unhappiness, we had a consultation to ask people in the area roughly bounded by Woodgrange Road, Capel Road, Ridley Road, and Sebert Road whether they wanted to have some form of restricted parking on their roads. The answer to this was a clear ‘yes’.
Subsequently, as part of the Council’s budget and various announcements for this current financial year, Newham announced as part of Keep Newham Moving that the whole borough would be subject to some form of residents’ parking zone. So the question then became ‘what hours of operation’ rather than ‘yes or no’.
Something that was difficult, then, was to decide what to do about the area of the ward we hadn’t included in the previous consultation. That is, the part of the ward on the western side of Woodgrange Road, sitting between the restrictions of Waltham Forest, the restrictions of Stratford, and the proposed restrictions in the eastern area of the ward. We met with the parking design team, with Cllr Ken Clarke who is the Cabinet member with responsibility for parking, and discussed it together.
We decided in the end that although it was difficult, it just wouldn’t be fair to exclude this relatively small area at this stage. If we’d moved ahead with restrictions in one area but not another, we would effectively leave the roads west of Woodgrange (Dames Road, Field Road, Essex Street, and more) as a small isolated island of no restrictions. Every vehicle that wanted to park for free would move onto those roads, some of which are amongst the narrowest in the ward. We felt it wouldn’t be right to let those roads become clogged up and to leave them out, so we decided, very slightly with gritted teeth, that it was the right and honest thing to do, to include them now and move on to the next stage.
So the next consultation was about the hours of operation. This is very far from straightforward. For every person who lobbied us strongly saying that problems (commuters, abandoned vehicles, cars for sale, and second vehicles from other RPZs) could be adequately managed by the shortest hours possible, and who felt strongly that we need to help local businesses with as much free parking as possible, there were others that who told us that even longer hours we required: all day every day, and right into the evening (particularly from residents living near Churches).
We also insisted on having a residents’ drop-in session as part of this consultation, at the Gate library one evening. I’d be lying if I said this was the most pleasant evening I’ve ever spent, but I do think it was important to give residents the chance to speak face to face about something that people felt so strongly about. What really struck me about that drop-in was that although the overall ‘noise’ from it was very anti-restrictions, when I made the effort to speak to each person who attended individually and to ask them what their comments and concerns were, most people came along with relatively minor queries or proposed amendments, and the majority of people were in favour overall of restrictions.
The results of that consultation came in, and the majority of people clearly expressed a preference for longer hours of restrictions. We discussed how we could help to make this rather controversial part of the process more transparent, and Seyi is currently working on another blog post to try to publish the responses received and the data in full. We also received a number of detailed suggested changes, and the parking design team spent some time accommodating as many of these as they could, where reasonable and practical.
The next required stage, which needs to happen I believe in order to actually have the power to enforce any restrictions, is the statutory consultation. When we heard about this stage my heart sank somewhat, “Aren’t people going to be very frustrated when we ask them once, ask them about the hours, and then consult with them again?” I asked firstly, and then, “Can’t we combine the statutory consultation with the second consultation to save time?”
Er, no, is the short answer. The reason this is separate is that you have to do the statutory consultation on the final design – in effect there is no opportunity to affect the design (hours, bay lengths, where the double yellows are, anything at all) at the statutory stage. The only opportunity is to accept or to reject entirely. So we were reluctantly persuaded that yes, this final stage was necessary, but probably on balance not as important as the earlier consultations as it asked a question we’d already asked, and didn’t offer a chance for residents to affect the design as the previous consultation did. So this stage went ahead, with a notice in the Newham Recorder, and notices on lampposts.
And now here we are. The lines are going down. The signs are going up. The start date is the 5th December. The hours are 8am – 6.30pm Monday to Saturday.
Some things about the implementation have not been ideal. The letters arrived a day or two later than they should have done. The website wasn’t updated quickly enough with the results of the consultation, the letters advised that we could apply for permits immediately but actually this wasn’t possible for another couple of days after that. Whilst recognising that parking design are a busy department trying to bring in RPZs across the borough, with expanding workloads and a small team (not to mention a slightly thankless job with lots of abuse hurled at them) we’ve felt frustrated by this too, and are taking residents’ feedback on this back to the Council and we are aiming to make things better in future.
But we do honestly really believe that in the end this is going to all be much better. We should see around a 30% reduction in cars parked on our roads. The new double yellow lines around junctions should make our roads safer and reduce scrapings, not to mention reduce some of the angry stand-offs that can come about. It’s likely there will be a period of settling in, and then it should all start to run quite smoothly. Certainly feedback from other areas has been that once the RPZ is in place, things improve dramatically.
If that isn’t the case, we are sure that we will hear about it very quickly! But do let us know how things go, either electronically or in person. All our details are on the contact us page.
In the meantime, that rather mammoth post could perhaps be summarised as ‘parking, where we are now’ and whilst it was a bit more lengthy than anticipated, we hope you found it useful.
If the whole of the borough is a RPZ, where do visitors park who are not visiting residents? I was born in the borough and lived there for over 50 years. I visit once or twice a year, not to see current residents but to visit old haunts like West Ham Park. I have no idea where I will park now and a quick look at the LBN website seems to suggest that this policy has not been properly thought through.
I still don’t understand why such long hours are needed to cut out commuter parking.
Magpie Close entrance is unsafe and dangerous, original plan should have had double yellow of both side bend. The entrance is narrow leaving no much manouvre for rubbish van e/o emergency vehicles.
Magpie Close is very unsafe with the new design, double yellow lines were supposed to be put on both side of the bend. The street is very narrow and the way has been redesigned doesn’t leave much manouvre to rubbish van e/o emergency vehicle, and the vision from the street is unpaired from the park vehicle. This is not what we asked on Magpie Close
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As a non-car owner in an area with an RPZ, I receive occasional visitors by car, I’m annoyed that the parking permits (30 free initially) can only be used for one car during a day.
This is especially annoying when I’ve had building work done (and will be doing so again in future) and have more than one contractor visiting during the course of a day (sometimes just for 15 mins).
The Newham webiste suggests these are one-day parking permits but they are one day, one car permits. Surely the car registration should be irrelevant? If the permit is marked for a set date, it should be OK to use it on any number of visitors I have that day.
Hi Ted, thanks for your comment. I think your point about using a permit for one day but for multiple vehicles is a fair one. I will ask Ken Clarke who is in overall charge of parking, whether this is something we could consider amending.
Thanks Rachel, be interesting to see what Ken thinks. Seems a no-brainer to me.
Hi Rachel – did you get a chance to put this question to Ken Clarke?
Good point. Quick google and Bristol do exactly as you say (1 permit is for 1 day for any car/s) and the Pay and Display is free for first 30 mins. See here https://www.bristol.gov.uk/parking/visitors-and-commuters
I hope deliveries can still be made in the RPZ reasonably.
Given that we getting a borough wide RPZ (Robin’s Parking Zone) regardless of preference, would it not make sense to simply have a Newham zone = live in the borough, pay your council tax to the borough, park free in the borough? It was done for the White Elephant Olympics, and you could pass it off as more legacy.
By chopping it up into little bits you can park near to where you live but if you shop/ work / visit family / attend events anywhere else you either can’t find anywhere to park, or pay. And let’s be honest more ££ is the root of why its being done this way.
Agreed. Tower Hamlets has its problems but you can park all day in the zone that you live in and up to three hours in another zone within the borough. The Newham RPZ is a complete screw up to be honest. The hours are ridiculous given the stated intent is to reduce commuter parking.
Hi Simon, thanks for your comment. I have spoken to other residents who agree with you about in effect creating one enormous RPZ. The problem is that parking pressures do vary from place to place. If you live right next to a station, for example, a borough wide RPZ will not help as all of Newham could potentially come and park in your road and leave their cars there all day whilst they were at work. This is particularly true for people who live in Stratford, which would run the risk of becoming a giant car park for everyone across the borough.
As well as the ‘residents’ bays, the new parking scheme also creates shared bays which have spaces where anyone can pay, and there is also a new provision where anyone with a Newham permit can park in some bays for 20 minutes for free, to help people to do their shopping etc.
It’s not perfect, and we will keep on reviewing it, but it does provide an answer for the residents who have been contacting us letting us know that they can’t park anywhere near their houses, and their streets are full up with commercial vehicles and with abandoned cars.
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Direct question for the Councillors – can you load/unload on a RPZ area (e.g. shopping deliveries?) and can you phone to pay to park anywhere in the RPZ area? There are 1 or 2 signs for very ill defined areas in the whole FGN RPZ.
Hi..so can you load/unload in an RPZ szone (e.g. like a single yellow) and is there anywhere online to see what areas you can pay by phone to park?
Hello Sean, I am just checking your loading question now, and will ask about an online map too. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.
Hello again, I just heard back from parking design. Yes, loading and unloading is allowed in all spaces and on double yellows and single yellow lines as long as it is observed to be ‘continuous, adjacent to the property and more than one person could carry in a trip’.
Also, where loading is not permitted, there will be signs making this clear.
Dear Seyi & Rachel
First day of the FGN RPZ and our street (Ridley Road) is already a different place. At last I do not feel as though I am living in a car park for commuters etc. It is not just that I do not have to spend time looking for space to park my car because someone who lives in Epping and works in the city is parked outside my house. It is that there are places for cars to pass each other without confrontations. It is that there is a clear reduction in the amount of traffic now that cars are not cruising around looking for free parking. It is that we have already stopped seeing damaged cars blighting the neighbourhood for weeks while local garages & insurance companies get around to working on them etc.
Sure there are still some problems but I for one am very grateful for the work that both of you and Council officers have put into achieving this result.
Looks like Centre Road may now need double yellows but I believe that is not a problem Newham can resolve. However the number of cars suddenly parked on Centre Road today does show how many commuters where using our streets previously.
Also congratulations to the parking enforcement officers who where very evident today ensuring that the RPZ is enforced.
Chair Forest Gate Ward Safer Neighbourhoods Committee
Thanks again Richard for taking the time to leave a comment. We all appreciate it very much. I know that the parking restrictions have been difficult and controversial but I do think we will all appreciate the changes you describe: less congestion on the roads, fewer cars dumped (and those that are, can be got rid of more quickly). I will pass on your kind words to parking enforcement too, who very rarely receive positive feedback so I am sure will appreciate it!
Of course, now Trumpington Road, Ramsey Road, Huddlestone Road etc. residents now bear the brunt of being the only streets in the vicinity with free parking. I havent been able to park on my own street for at least 6 out of 10 times. What’s being done?
Hello Jessica, We did contact Waltham Forest when we were initially consulting on our RPZ, months and months ago. I understand that there is now a consultation running about controlling parking on your roads – do get in touch with WF with your views.