'This is a matter of upholding local democracy': Jon Cruddas slams CPZ roll out in Dagenham

Rainham and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas

Dagenham and Rainham MP, Jon Cruddas, said: "The exclusively online consultation system used on these schemes is flawed and must be revisited." - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

The MP for Dagenham has urged the town hall to rethink controls forcing people to park outside their homes.

Jon Cruddas made the call as the results of his consultation were published showing 86 per cent of those who responded rejected controlled parking zones (CPZs).

Mr Cruddas began seeking views in July after hundreds raised concerns about the scheme, including on the Rylands estate.

Barking and Dagenham Council maintains CPZs improve safety and aid its climate emergency response.

In total, 1,151 people took part with 989 completing Mr Cruddas's online survey, 54 emailing responses and 108 sending views by post.

According to Mr Cruddas's office, 70 per cent said there was "poor" communication between the community and council.

A council spokesperson said its consultation had been "comprehensive" with people written to several times.

Mr Cruddas said: "I am afraid the council [has] failed to appreciate the strength of concern across the Rylands estate."

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He explained during the town hall's initial consultation 87pc opposed the scheme but only 8pc of those eligible took part.

"The exclusively online consultation system used on these schemes is flawed and must be revisited," Mr Cruddas said.

The Labour MP described one situation where residents didn’t respond, but were counted as supporting the CPZ.

The council spokesperson denied the consultation was flawed, saying there were options to comment by email, phone, at libraries and at contact centres.

He added the council fully appreciated the concerns, which were identified in its consultation.

"We have also been clear as to why the [Rylands] scheme has been introduced and the benefits to the community," he said.

On non-respondents counting in support, the spokesperson denied this was the case.

"This is a misunderstanding of the processes followed by local authorities up and down the country," he said.

He explained the decision met with council parking policy which has to consider resident feedback as well as considerations over safety, congestion, air quality, development and issues raised by the emergency services and TfL.

But Mr Cruddas said: "If the council aren’t willing to conduct a thorough consultation on CPZs, then I’m afraid I will have to independently consult on every scheme proposed across Dagenham.

"When the policy was announced I was told it would only be introduced where the community genuinely wanted it – this is clearly not the case.

"People don’t feel like they are being listened to. This is now a matter of upholding local democracy," he said.

Mr Cruddas made a series of demands of the Labour led local authority.

Among them is a six-month review of rolled out schemes, "properly conducted" with multiple ways to respond. If after review the majority are unhappy with a CPZ, it should be scrapped.

A further demand is for future consultations to be "thorough", available on paper, over the phone and online with a base line for participation.

In addition, charges for new dropped kerbs should not be taken from residents where a controlled parking zone is due to be introduced.

And where payments have been taken less than six months before introduction of a CPZ, applicants should be refunded.

The demands follow neighbours in River ward calling on the council to revoke a scheme in their streets.

"The measures I am proposing are not unreasonable and would go some way to ensure people are part of the discussion again.

"CPZs are in some instances necessary given parking difficulties and can work in favour of households close to tube and rail links.

"But their introduction must be based on positive support within the community. This whole situation could have been handled better and I will be watching the council closely in the coming months as more potential CPZ locations are announced," Mr Cruddas said.

Asked if the council would meet the demands, the spokesperson said: "The council will continue to follow the policies it has set out and will remain flexible about how we consult and implement parking schemes."

He added the council would undertake a review of the dropped kerb policy and permit scheme, taking into account feedback from people who responded to the CPZ consultation.

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