Free Harrow town centre parking to be scrapped at certain times - critics call it 'money making scheme'

Stock image of parking meter
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

A North London council is being challenged over its plans to remove a number of free parking times in car parks throughout the borough. Opposition councillors have accused the administration of running a 'money making scheme', which they claim will have a detrimental impact on local businesses, shoppers, and community groups.

The local Labour group are calling on Harrow Council to scrap plans to introduce evening and weekend fees at three town centre car parks. The Conservative-run council said the changes are due to the 'evolving demographic' in the borough.

Speaking at a recent Cabinet meeting (May 21), Labour's Cllr Peymana Assad called it's 'a clear money making scheme' to offset losses incurred from the council's offering of one hour free parking. She said: "It seems like this Conservative council is making it even harder for families to enjoy life, with a clear impact on those from lower socio-economic backgrounds."

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Greenhill Way Car Park, Harrow
Free parking after 6.30pm is set to be scrapped in two Harrow town centre car parks -Credit:Google Maps

Cllr Assad asked the administration if it would 'put residents first' - one of the council's three priorities - and reverse the plans, which are set to come into force from June 3. Implying this was a loaded question, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Highways, Cllr David Ashton, said: "That's like the question 'When will you stop beating your wife?', which you can't really answer."

He added: "We are putting residents first, we do look at the pattern of charges. We are very careful and very established in having one hour free parking right across the borough at any time - that is a major benefit to residents."

The proposal includes changes across the borough, including the removal of free parking at certain times at the following car parks:

  • Cambridge Road

  • Davy House (Lyon Road)

  • Belmont Circle

  • Peel House

  • Grimsdyke Road

  • Palmerston Road

  • Greenhill Way

The Labour Group are specifically fighting against the removal of evening free parking after 6.30pm in Greenhill Way and Davy House (Lyon Road) car parks in Harrow town centre, as well as the removal of free evening parking from Monday to Saturday and all day on Sundays at Palmerston Road Car Park in Wealdstone town centre. They claim these car parks provide a 'real boost' to the local community.

Leader of the Harrow Labour Group, Cllr David Perry, said: "I and all the Labour councillors oppose these measures to remove elements of free parking in key areas of economic activity in Harrow and Wealdstone town centres."

He added: "We believe the consultation period was wholly inadequate and feel that this is needless penalisation of residents in Harrow. We hope that the petitions will urge the Conservative council to reopen the consultation period."

Labour have started a petition that has been signed by more than 1,500 residents, which they claim demonstrates 'widespread opposition' to the changes. The group said: "These car parks are heavily used by local residents during the weekend and evening times to support the day and night-time economies. For the council to ignore shopkeepers, restaurants, cafés and other evening operating businesses along with community run and faith facilities is unacceptable."

Cllr Ashton said Labour 'didn't make any comment' about the plans when they were first proposed and before they were approved. He added: "If you have concerns it would have made more sense to raise them before plans were agreed. Cllr Assad said Labour voted against the changes at the recent full council meeting (May 16).

Leader of Harrow Council, Cllr Paul Osborn, said: "I think Harrow offers a very generous parking regime, one of the best in London for people who want to park and use our local shops and restaurants."

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