30 councillors urge mayor to halt controversial Newham parking scheme
- Credit: PA
Thirty councillors have called on the borough's mayor to halt the town hall's controversial parking scheme.
In an open letter, 30 of Newham's 59 councillors complain their inboxes have been "overwhelmed" by requests for help because of the charges.
Sent on January 5, the letter says: "Newham residents have suffered during this pandemic.
"Residents need a [c]ouncil that will stand by them, not imposing regressive and unfair taxes, adding to their already demanding financial situations."
A Newham Council spokesperson said the mayor would respond to the letter "in due course".
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Five petitions against the scheme have amassed more than 7,000 signatures though the Recorder could not verify whether individuals had signed more than one.
Newham's spokesperson said the scheme had been subject to "extensive" consultation - including with council members - for the past year.
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Councillors had also voted for the new arrangements at cabinet and full council meetings, she went on to say.
Under the scheme, most parking permits will cost £60, but those for higher polluting vehicles or additional cars will be more expensive.
Liam Adam, who spoke against the scheme at a Newham Council meeting on December 14, said: "This policy isn't going to reduce emissions. It will only hurt the pockets of residents during the toughest economic times of a generation."
However, a council study states a majority of issued permits (56pc) are in areas where average annual incomes are above £30,000.
The spokesperson said that after listening to members and residents' concerns, a temporary, 20 per cent discount is being applied to the cost of a first permit.
The online system went live in December with the first permits active this week.
The Labour councillors say the charges, which are based on a vehicle's emissions, will not clean up Newham's air.
They urge the Labour mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, to review the scheme after the pandemic.
"We hope you will consider residents' views, standing by your slogan: 'putting people at the heart of everything we do'", they state.
But Cllr James Asser, lead member for environment, highways and sustainable transport, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the effect poor air quality has on public health.
“Long-term exposure to polluted air can have permanent health effects. Those with underlying respiratory illnesses have been the most vulnerable to the most severe outcomes of Covid-19 infection.
“We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to protect our communities and improve our air quality," he added.