Letter to the Editor on planned diesel parking permit tax
Many residents’ shock that Merton Labour will shortly be slapping a new tax on some diesel vehicle owners is entirely understandable. The council has done its very best not to publicise these plans until the eleventh hour.
Indeed the Labour administration even ignored the advice of its own consultants in deciding not to consult with residents on the potential impact of this surcharge BEFORE deciding to implement it. They are only consulting now because they are legally obliged to in order to amend all the traffic management orders.
By voting through an increase to the cost of parking permits for the owners of diesel vehicles in CPZs, Labour councillors have broken yet another of their 2014 election promises. Far from freezing the cost of permits until 2018, Merton's new surcharge will be considerably higher than other London boroughs leading to concerns this is predominantly a revenue-raising measure.
Conservatives challenged this decision at a 'call in' meeting held last month. Of course we appreciate the need to reduce air pollution in the borough and support the principle that the polluter should pay. However, Merton Labour’s proposal to hike up costs for diesel vehicles is a blunt instrument designed mainly to plug their own budget gap. There is little evidence it will actually help improve Merton's air quality and no guarantee that the extra money raised will be used for environmental or anti-pollution measures.
What it will do is unfairly penalise diesel vehicle owners - particularly in the west of the borough where the majority of CPZs are located - regardless of how much they actually drive their cars. Perversely it will hit hardest those on lower incomes who can’t necessarily afford to upgrade their cars and also risks encouraging residents to concrete over front gardens to create more off street parking.
By rushing this in very little notice, Labour councillors are once again treating captive residents as a cash cow to cover up their own financial mismanagement. That's why we have set up a petition to urge the administration to re-think its policy. I encourage all concerned residents to sign up at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/mertondieseltax.
Councillor Daniel Holden
Conservative Spokesman for Transport, Parking and Cleaner Streets.
What do you think? Why not comment on our forum?
January 26, 2017