View from the House: Example of local democracy in action

PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 September 2017


Last winter many Wanstead residents and business owners reacted with consternation to an experimental parking scheme, imposing a permit scheme on the area for an 18-month period.

I heard from a number of businesses who reacted with the same horror when almost identical proposals were made in 2011, at that time forcing the council into a U-turn.

I was therefore relieved to hear in March that the experimental traffic order was to be removed in favour of a “gold standard” consultation exercise, which announced its results earlier in the month.

I believe that the result – a much scaled-down version, with only a fraction of the roads originally proposed getting a new permit scheme – shows what can be achieved when residents engage in local democracy.

I know Wanstead ward councillors Paul Merry and Sheila Bain spent a lot of time conveying the deep concerns of local people about the original scheme, as did I.

Parking is quite possibly the trickiest thing for councils to get right. I often hear from residents in all parts of my constituency who want a permit scheme because commuters or shoppers fill all the spaces in their road, but this can become an eternally self-perpetuating process as parking is displaced onto the next road, and the next, and the next ad infinitum.

This can be challenging for businesses, who need visitor parking to remain available.

Only by people continuing to participate in local democracy can we hope to find the best balance between the needs of residents and businesses.

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