The town hall has agreed to cut the cost of its emissions based parking permits by 20 per cent because of the impact of Covid-19.

Newham Council cabinet chiefs voted unanimously in favour of offering the discount on each household’s first permit for one year.

However, Cllr Susan Masters, in a meeting on Tuesday, December 1, questioned whether the measure went far enough to limit the impact on people’s finances in what was already the second poorest borough in London before the pandemic.

Cllr Masters said: “I’ve no objection in principal to a first permit charge. I feel to introduce this with no allowance for residents’ ability to pay or to spread payment is unfair.

“I don’t feel our poorest residents should be feeling the brunt. I would ask cabinet to reconsider.”

Council papers show the number of people claiming an unemployment related benefit shot up from 8,040 in February to 24,800 in October.

Under Newham’s plan, the most polluting vehicles will cost more to park in the borough with the changes – due to come in from January 2021 – forming part of efforts to improve air quality.

Cllr John Gray asked where the estimated £4million raised by the scheme would be spent, what the consequences of delaying its introduction could be and what the shortfall might be if the town hall charged a flat rate for the first permit.

Cllr James Asser, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “I don’t think anybody doubts this is a very, very difficult time.”

He explained how money from parking is ringfenced and has to be spent on transport issues, including pot holes.

“I don’t think a flat rate is as progressive as an emissions based system. Half of councils are on emissions based systems in London. Others are moving that way,” Cllr Asser said.

He added money raised by the plan was already factored into the council’s budget and delaying it would mean cuts would have to be made elsewhere.

“It’s a difficult choice. I’m happy to discuss other ways to help people,” he said.

Cllr Asser went on to explain that toxic air has an impact on people’s likelihood of getting Covid-19 and its impact.

The discount is subject to consultation and any objections.