In the last few days, residents across the Royal Borough have been receiving letters demanding they re-apply for new parking permits by the 31st of July. The letter sets out a scale of charges and includes a link to a ‘Renew a resident permit’ page.
This measure was introduced by the Conservative administration at a full council on the 25th of February. No Liberal Democrat Councillor voted for the proposal.
Through this measure, the borough hopes to raise £250,000 per annum in this and the next three financial years.
That is why they need to revoke all existing permits immediately.
The Liberal Democrat Councillor group have been bombarded with complaints from our residents. ‘Highway robbery’ was one of the more printable comments we received.
Our response was to have Cllr Amy Tisi (Liberal Democrat, Clewer East) and Adam Bermange, a Liberal Democrat community activist in Boyn Hill ward, do some digging.
Here is what they found out. The legal basis to operate permit parking schemes is laid out in Part IV of the Road Traffic Regulation Act of 1984 (Sections 45, 46 and 46A).
A council can use these powers to make Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) which contain the details of how schemes will operate. There are five such TROs covering different areas within our borough.
Inside the TROs are stipulated the limited circumstances under which RBWM can revoke permits before they reach their expiry date. The relevant clauses are 100 and 101.
They do not include giving the council the powers to revoke residents’ current free-of-charge permits solely for the purposes of making them purchase new ones.
By issuing this letter the council and therefore the Conservative administration are, yet again, acting beyond their powers.
There were other ways to proceed. They could have modified the existing TROs or replaced them with a new one or ones. However, we believe that either option would require them to consult the affected residents.
We can all imagine what the response to any such consultation might be!
Over the last few days Cllr. Tisi has tried to get a clarification from both Cllrs. Cannon (Con. Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) and Rayner (Con. Eton and Castle) only to be told the decision taken in February was final.
In the coming days, we will be talking with the Conservative administration. However, until a satisfactory way forward has been agreed, we will insist that the payment site be closed, and all money collected to date is refunded.
We also believe that the responsible Lead Member owes all the residents a public apology.
On Thursday 28th May 2020 at the RBWM Cabinet meeting the Conservative administration admitted they were acting beyond their powers and backed down on their plans. Now residents will only have to apply for paid permits when their existing free permit expires. All residents who have paid upfront for a permit they didn’t need will be refunded.