I’m very late with this, but this weekend’s your last chance to respond to the consultation on Greenwich Council’s “pavement tax”, the charge on shops and cafes placing items on the pavements outside their premises, which led to people dressing up as fruit and veg outside Woolwich Town Hall last year. (Go via here if the other link doesn’t work.)
I’ve heard a faint rumour that Greenwich Council is trying to find a way to extricate itself from this balls-up of a policy, but at January’s council meeting, cabinet members droned on about mums-and-buggies, while an early email alerting people to the consultation seemed as if it had been sent to just about group who could possibly find fault with chairs, goods or A-boards being placed on pavements.
It’s worth pointing out that the pavement tax fiasco is a direct result of the bullying yet cowardly way Greenwich Council is currently run – slipped in as a line in a budget without consultation or discussion, saving a cabinet member (in this case, Maureen O’Mara) having to justify it. When opposition politicians belatedly realised what was happening, and pointed out it could be illegal, the response was a) the Tories endorsed it when they backed the council’s budget, and b) how very dare you criticise our brave council officers who are implementing this, along with a surreal defence that some traders actually liked the scheme.
It’s also possible the scheme won’t actually make enough money to pay its way – after all, it means employing people to go nosing around shopping parades to check on frontages – so is a complete waste of time. Here’s the discussion from last October’s council meeting.
It’s telling that most other London boroughs operate a similar scheme – but Greenwich still managed to make a mess of it. Plenty of local Labour activists and councillors are also opposing the pavement tax, so who knows? One more push, and this bad policy could be gone.
The consultation closes on Monday, so this is the last chance – fill it in today.