Council hopes next month's rise will reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide
Parking charges in Merton are set to increase next month, but the council has been accused of having a lack of evidence that it will not improve air quality.
The new charges for public car parks, street parking and parking permits will be launched on January 14, 2020.
It will see on street parking in Wimbledon town centre rise to £4.50 an hour from £1.20-2.40.
It will increase to £3 in areas including Raynes Park and Colliers Wood would go up to £3.
Merton Council hopes that this will reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide. It says 60% of this in the borough comes from vehicles.
Back in July the council voted in favour of declaring a climate change emergency pledging to make the whole of Merton carbon neutral by 2050 and the council a carbon neutral organisation by 2030.
But Liberal Democrat Councillor Anthony Fairclough said: “The scheme looks like it’s purely about raising revenue, mainly targeted at people who live in areas that don’t tend to elect Labour councillors – Wimbledon and Raynes Park – where the new charges will be highest.
“Instead we want them to look seriously at schemes where the worst polluting vehicles pay more, where support is given to help people change to greener vehicles, and where other positive action is also taken to improve air quality.”
In July the plans were temporarily knocked back after Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors ‘called-in’ the decision.
They said groups representing people with disabilities, pregnant women and people with young children and those on low incomes. But despite this the plans will go ahead next month.
In Merton 42 per cent of journeys are made by car compared to 30 per cent on foot, 3 per cent by bike and 24 per cent on public transport.
The larger increase in parking charges will be in places where there are more public transport links.
Merton Council’s cabinet member for the environment, Councillor Tobin Byers said: “We are deeply committed to doing everything we can to improve the quality of the air we breathe in Merton, to protect the health of our residents now and for future generations.
“For this reason we are introducing these new parking charges for the start of the new decade. I do understand that some residents will have to pay more to park, however I know many residents do want us to take all the action we can to reduce toxic air in Merton as a matter of urgency.”
Income that the council makes from the increased parking charges can only be spent on transport related projects including the Freedom Pass which Merton spent £27million on in three years.
By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
December 18, 2019