Merton Council Leader Denies Parking Space Allegations

Opposition claimed money spent to move his spot closer to entrance

The car park at Merton Civic Centre in Morden. Picture: Google Streetview

The leader of Merton Council has hit back at claims more than £100 was spent to move his parking space closer to the door of the Civic Centre in Morden.

Opposition councillors accused Councillor Ross Garrod of wasting public money by moving his space “right next to the entrance”.

However, Cllr Garrod said his space was moved due to “safety concerns”. Previously the leader had to reverse towards an opening which acts as a walkway used by staff – he said this was a problem when he moved his car a few times a day.

An email from Merton Council said the cost of repainting the lines was £182 but Cllr Garrod claims it actually cost less than £150. Liberal Democrat opposition councillors asked why the leader’s space had been moved at a council meeting on Wednesday night (16 November).

An email chain seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service shows a member of Cllr Garrod’s team asking about an “issue the leader has raised about car parking.”

The email, dated 24 August, said, “How quickly we can re-mark the car park to relocate the leader’s space?” This was followed up with another email 10 days later asking for an update on when the work would be scheduled.

At the meeting, Councillor Simon McGarth said, “What I was hoping to hear about was the decision at the cost of £182.78 to move the leader of the council’s parking space right next to the entrance of the council which doesn’t strike me as necessary and a good use of public money.”

In answer, cabinet member for finance Councillor Billy Christie said, “Following concerns that were raised lines have been repainted.”

After the meeting, the leader’s office was asked why the parking space was moved. The statement issued said, “The parking space was positioned across an opening in the perimeter wall which is often used as a staff entrance to the car park.

“As the council leader comes and goes several times a day to meetings, there were some safety concerns and the space was moved, at a cost of less than £150.”

Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

November 21, 2022