Free parking could be extended for Barking and Dagenham shoppers

Barking and Dagenham council plans to introduce 30 minutes' free parking to support business Picture

Barking and Dagenham council plans to introduce 30 minutes' free parking to support business Picture: Melissa Page - Credit: Archant

Plans to roll out fair and transparent parking policy include proposals for 30 minutes of free parking for shoppers.

Reversing its policy of 15 minutes’ free parking for shoppers across Barking and Dagenham, the council revealed plans to extend the time limit.

In a cabinet meeting at Barking Town Hall on Tuesday, councillors admitted 15 minutes was not “long enough for most areas”, with council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell saying the Draft Parking Strategy for 2016-2026 would also introduce borough-wide consistency with uniform virtual parking permits for residents.

“It [the draft strategy] tidies up something that was very messy across the borough and I think it gives a very distinct direction,” he said. “This shows we are listening and responding.”

The draft strategy also proposes giving one hour’s free parking in car parks within borough parks to promote healthy lifestyles, along with rolling out free parking for cyclists.

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And it promises to review car parking charges across all borough car parks, following criticism of the RingGo scheme in Fiddlers Junction, Dagenham, which Golden Fish boss Jason Aiken blamed for putting customers off and resulting in a profit loss of £2,500 in the scheme’s first week in February.

The strategy also pledges to reserve five per cent of car parking spaces for blue badge holders, tackle “persistent parking fine evaders” and combat “double parking” on footways and roads.

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A consultation into the plans was launched on Wednesday with councillors’ approval, with cabinet member for enforcement and community safety Cllr Laila Butt welcoming an end to inconsistencies she described as “problematic to say the least”.

“I think it’s a great step forward,” she said. “I hope our residents will actually engage.”

The consultation will close on September 23, with an implementation plan earmarked for December.

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