Controversial Wanstead parking scheme pushed back to May or June at Redbridge Council meeting

Campaigner Andy Walker, centre, urged councillors to demand 32 acute beds are reopened at King Geoge Hospital, at last...

Campaigner Andy Walker, centre, urged councillors to demand 32 acute beds are reopened at King Geoge Hospital, at last night's council meeting. - Credit: Archant

The highly-contested proposed parking scheme in Wanstead could now start in May or June – three months after originally planned.

Cllr John Howard, cabinet member for environment and sustainability, revealed the news at last night’s full council meeting, the first of 2017.

The topic was on everyone’s minds in Redbridge Town Hall, Ilford, with several public questions, a petition and a deputation from a full public gallery.

Cllr Howard reiterated that the consultation would be “gold standard”, with group and drop-in sessions taking place over the next two months.

The controversial project, which plans to introduce pay and display parking in Wanstead High Street, and residents’ permits on surrounding roads, has been met with fierce opposition.

Donna Mizzi, founder of the Art Trail Wanstead, presented a petition with 3,584 signatures calling for a full consultation, while Mr Dower, a fellow Wanstead resident, urged the council to consider introducing the scheme in phases.

He said: “A phased out scheme would take longer but it would raise any issues of parking displacement occurring.”

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A petition by dedicated campaigner Andy Walker calling on the council to urge Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs King George Hospital, to reopen 32 acute beds was passed on to the Health Scrutiny Committee.

Councillors unanimously agreed to support a protest against the proposed closure of the A&E department in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, which will take place on March 18.

A fiery debate over the council tax reduction scheme saw councillors firmly split along party lines, with Cllr Anne Sachs (Lab, Chadwell) explaining she was voting in favour of the cuts “with a heavy heart”.

The current tax support scheme requires working age benefit claimants to only pay 15 per cent of their council tax.

After proposals by the Labour councillors were passed yesterday, they will now have to pay 20pc this year, unless they are claiming Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Personal Independent Payments (PIP).

A discretionary fund will be offered to residents “in severe financial hardship”.

If they are, they will still be entitled to 85pc relief on their council tax bill.

An amendment by Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Ian Bond to keep relief support at 85pc was not passed.

Neither was Conservative group leader Cllr Paul Canal’s proposal to keep support at 85pc for residents claiming disability benefits, at an estimated net cost of £88,000.

His second amendment to maintain the 85pc tax relief for lone parents with children under 11 years old was also not passed.

Redbridge Council leader, Cllr Jas Athwal, said the reduction in support was a “difficult decision, made necessary by financial pressures”.

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