Senior Greenwich councillor promises crackdown on illegal parking

Charlton Park illegal parking
Bad parking: A lack of enforcement meant this car’s driver regularly blocked the pavement outside Charlton Park on summer Fridays

A senior Greenwich councillor has pledged to beat the rash of illegal parking blighting the borough and is planning to recruit an army of temporary wardens to do it.

Community safety cabinet member Jackie Smith admitted the borough’s parking enforcement was “not good enough” and told last week’s full council meeting that new measures such as mobile cameras, as used for many years in Bexley, Lewisham and other boroughs, would be introduced.

Residents post photos of bad parking blocking pavements, bus stops and cycle lanes almost daily, complaining about the council’s inability to deal with the issue.

In response to a public question from Paul Billington, a resident of Plumstead – where the problem is particularly bad – Smith said the council had struggled to recruit parking wardens.

“I totally sympathise with what you say, we don’t have enough parking wardens, we are really trying hard to recruit but it’s not been easy,” she said.

“We’ve had two rounds of recruitment where we’ve not managed to recruit a single person.”

In 2016/17, Greenwich issued just 38,885 penalty charge notices for parking – the second-lowest in London. Neighbouring Lewisham issued 47,313 while Bexley handed out 51,406.

Smith added: “We have had a few more in, we have had permission from the chief executive to go up to our full complement of parking wardens by using temporary wardens.

“We are introducing other measures which I am bringing through such as mobile facilities, and more cameras, and we certainly will get on top of it.

“I very much hope that in six months’ time, across the borough you’ll see a very different story.”

Long wait for EU campaigners

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Greenwich councillors backed a fresh referendum on leaving the European Union, but left campaigners waiting for four hours until nearly 11pm for their decision.

A group of 14 Labour councillors had put forward the motion calling upon the Government “to allow the citizens of the United Kingdom to have a ‘People’s Vote’ on the final Brexit deal”, which was due to be the first of three to be heard.

But ceremonial mayor Christine May, a Labour councillor for Middle Park and Sutcliffe, switched the agenda at the last minute to move the motion to the end of the meeting, which began at 7pm – meaning a large group of Greenwich For Europe activists, who lobbied for the motion to be heard, had to wait three hours for the start of the debate, and a further hour for the vote.

Conservative councillor Spencer Drury, who abstained in the vote, has suggested the delay was to allow Labour councillors who disagreed with a new referendum to skip the vote without facing consequences from chief whip Angela Cornforth, who earlier in the evening saw members back a £5,000 pay rise for her.

Mayor May’s switching around of the motions meant the pro-EU campaigners had to wait an extra 45 minutes for the start of what ended up being an hour-long debate, with cabinet member Chris Kirby winning a vote at 10.30pm to extend the meeting for a further 30 minutes.

The final vote on the motion was not taken until nearly 11pm, the latest end to a full council meeting for some years.

Five Labour councillors left ahead of the vote, while all nine of the Tory group – which is split on the issue of leaving the EU and were allowed a free vote – stayed in the town hall chamber, all backing an amendment to the vote calling for the referendum result to be respected. Conservatives Matt Clare and Charlie Davis then joined Labour councillors in backing the call for a fresh poll.

Greenwich Council did not respond to a question asking why May made the campaigners wait so long.

Video of the full council meeting can be seen on the Greenwich Council website.

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