Council forced to apologise over Eltham parking restrictions incompetence

By | March 26, 2023

Following the publication of my blog about the Well Hall Road parking restrictions last week Charlie Davis and I emailed a few Councillors, publicised the mistakes made introducing the scheme and spoke with a number of businesses about the problems making it harder to park had caused them.  Then, lo and behold, by Wednesday the Tudor Parade shops received a letter from ‘Parking Design’ at Greenwich Council making a limited apology for mistakes made, pausing enforcement of the Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ)  and, by Thursday, the signs about parking restrictions were covered up with some attractive looking black plastic bags and masking tape.  I think the reversal of the Council’s policy counts as a victory, although I suspect it is in this battle not the war.

So let’s be clear, an unsigned letter from ‘Parking Design’ isn’t really taking responsibility for the mess which has been created for shops and shoppers using the Tudor Parade on Well Hall Road.  If the Council was really concerned the Cabinet Member for Transport would have signed off the letter and apologised personally for the damage to the shops all along the parade which the botched introduction of parking restrictions has caused. The letter from the Council can be seen below:

The Council’s plan: install parking meters and put up even more signs

The letter from Royal Borough of Greenwich Council apologises for ‘a few issues’ which they say include failing to put in the parking meters at the same time as the signs.  I have to say the commitment to include parking meters is welcome as it will reduce the digital exclusion felt by many older members of Eltham’s community, but the idea that you would put up signs saying you can pay for parking at the machine without actually installing the machines remains rank incompetence. 

The Council has also confirmed that “The parking scheme that has been introduced does allow for 30 minutes of free parking when drivers pay at a machine, pay online, on the telephone or via the Pay by Phone app.”  Again, it is pleasing to read this, however, it was clearly not the case that this was the situation last week – we know this as:

  • It was not mentioned on the new signs put up which state very clearly you have to pay to park for any period of time.
  • The minimum period of time you were allowed to park for on the parking app at the start of the week was one hour as local resident Jim pointed out in a response to the Facebook post.

In its letter the Council has announced additional signage to ensure customers know about the 30 mins free parking but are insisting to need to get a ticket or pay online for this.  They have also changed the parking app since Jim’ experience so you can indeed arrange to park for only 30 minutes so it is at least possible to park for free. 

So the improvements which have been committed to are actually putting in parking meters and informing people about 30 minutes free parking, which, unbelievably, the Council claims was always available.

What to do now?

It is quite clear that the Well Hall Road and other nearby sections of this Controlled Parking Scheme are in chaos.  It is equally quite clear that when Cllr Merrill took the decision to abandon this scheme when she was Cabinet Member for Transport she was absolutely right – the scheme as introduced damages both shops like the Tesco which require customers to be able to stop briefly and those which require longer parking like the Tudor Barn or Progress Hall.  Quite simply, the Woolwich focused Council are ignoring the requirements of residents in communities like Eltham in favour of short term revenue increases. 

To follow up on the chaotic changes to the CPZ on Well Hall Road this week Charlie and I have written to Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Chief Executive asking for the scheme to be abandoned.  We have also asked that all fines issued or parking charges collected under the misleading signage over the last month be returned – given the Council’s apology I would have thought this was legally required and they are probably just hoping no one points it out.

The letter is here:

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, whether you view this episode as incompetence or conspiracy, it is quite clear you can’t trust Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Labour Council to put Eltham’s interests first.  The Council were told in consultation responses by every business and resident in the area that their parking plans were wrong but they ignored them, presumably so they can collect revenue from Eltham residents to spend elsewhere.  Treating Eltham like a cash cow won’t work in the long run as firms leave and our shopping parades (including the High Street) start to feature more and more empty shops.  An apology for incompetence is welcome but not the same as getting the policy right in the first place, something which this new Council is notably failing to do.

Do get in contact with Charlie or myself if you have any suggestions about the way forward – the parking restrictions proposed still do not reflect the needs of the local community and as one of the business owners pointed out to me Greenwich Council’s parking permits for Eltham are now more expensive than those in Richmond so shops will find it cheaper to move elsewhere.

4 thoughts on “Council forced to apologise over Eltham parking restrictions incompetence

  1. Tim Waters

    You suggest that the Council are ignoring the needs of their residents in favour of short term revenue. Oh no, no, no, it is far worse than that. They are ignoring the needs of residents and trying to make their lives so difficult, inconvenient and expensive in order that they give up their cars just so the Council can achieve their spurious target of net zero by 2030 – a superficially worthy cause that will have no impact on global climate change.

    1. Spencer Drury Post author

      Thanks Tim – I agree with you. The target seems to be to make residents lives worse to get them out of their cars. This is a net negative for everyone but particularly for those who need to use their cars who find their lives restricted by the Council’s policies.

  2. Shaun

    We fought long and hard to reject the cycle crossing and restricted parking near our shop , and even with the support of Greenwich cyclists the reconstruction went ahead , now there is limited parking for our customers , our lorries delivering to us
    have to block the road ,and to top it all the design is so bad when it rains the drains block and the is always a big puddle by the cab office ( Dunvegan Rd))
    I’m sure the Council tries to intimidate all of us traders in Well Hall Rd , all because they want to highlight Eltham High St .Their SE9 flagship baby .
    Poor Policy RBG , think you would get a 2 on an equivalent food rating .

    1. Spencer Drury Post author

      Completely agree about the stupidity of this. Charlie and I arranged a meeting to review the cycle crossing and pointed out there was a cycle lane running through the station with Glenlea Road being a much safer alternative for cyclists. Despite Greenwich cyclists backing this plan they ignored us all and just pushed ahead with the road restriction. It is like they think shops will stay open despite them making it harder for them to trade. Utter foolishness.


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