Oval Partnership Briefing Note

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Parking Control


In 2009/10 Lambeth earned some £18m from parking revenue and expended £16.3m. This revenue diverts money from the local economy and imapcts disproportionately on certain types of business.  There are alos some less obviosu consequences

Street environment perspective

A survey of 10 residential streets (5 February 2011) showed that dedicated parking signs or machines accounted for some 32% of all street furniture.  If bollards to prevent illegal parking are included, the figure rises to over 50%.  The survey suggests that the introduction of parking control has effectively doubled the amount of street furniture.  It was also noted in the survey that most redundant street furniture appeared to be parking related items such as disused parking machine bases.

The complexity of parking arragements was also evident.  The average number of different types of parking restriction in a single street averaged 5 with a maximum of 8 occurring in two streets in the survey.  

Residential perspective

An annual Lambeth residential parking permit costs between £0 to £200  (median £135 perhaps),

Visitor daily permits cost £3.70...and they are about to put up the prices

In the 2001 census, some 58% of households had no car or van (see neighbourhood statistics).  In theory then, only a minority of residents are directly affected when parking controls are introduced  but let’s see.  The usual argument cited in favour of parking control goes along the following lines.  ‘Streets are congested during the day with commuters parking their cars.  As a result, residents can’t park their cars’.  The actual situation is far more complicated.  A proportion of those parking, would have been visiting residents either socially, family members perhaps, or on business e.g. Visiting tradesmen repairing a gas boiler, fixing the telephone etc.  Another proportion would have been visiting local shops/businesses while others will have been working in those same shops/businesses.  Once parking control is introduced the micro economic behaviour starts to change rapidly and large sums of money are diverted from one part of the local economy to another. For example

The key benefit for local residents is that their street is less congested during parking control hours.  It is also true that discouraging car use is better for the Here are some possible hidden costs:

This last point is a little contentious but consider this.  Rather ironically, as local shops close, residents have to travel further to shops and become more likely  ‘need’ a car to do their shopping.  To illustrate the point, earlier today (29/1/2011) some local residents were returning in their car from the local supermarket.  As it is Saturday, I wondered why they didn’t use the Oval Farmers’ Market which was only a few minutes walk away.  The answer was that they wanted to get some cat food.  It wasn’t sold nearby and it was too heavy to carry all that way.    The main reason that they had that car, they said, was to do their shopping.  QED?

Shop/business perspective

A 12 month Lambeth business parking permit costs £525 .  Daily trader permits cost £2.60

When all day parking controls are introduced, shops/businesses that rely on custom from those who drive to the area suddenly find that they have fewer customers.   For example, when parking controls were first introduced in the Oval area, a local restaurant’s lunch time business dropped from0 covers to 6.  Evening trade was unaffected but opening at lunch times became loss making.  Two other businesses nearby, indicated turnover down by some 10% while some other businesses were relatively unaffected.  Consider the following.  You are a driver and you have three choices:

(1) Find a parking meter that is working and pay £3.15 per hour to park in a street near a traditional shopping parade

(2) Take a chance and park illegally hoping to get in and out of a shop quickly

(3) Drive to a local supermarket that has been granted planning permission for an effectively free public car park

What would you do?  Clearly the choice has a micro-economical effect.  A significant proportion of people will avoid option (1) and go for (3) as it is cheaper and safer.  Risk takers may go for option (2) but that only favours certain types of business.  For example, you can pop in and out of convenience stores, newsagents, take-away, dry cleaner shops fairly quickly.  On the other hand, you can’t get in and out of a restaurant or have a business meeting that quick. Over time businesses start to close down/change hands and as a result the character of local shopping parades starts to change. Sometimes the change may be welcome but more often it is not.  

Some local authorities operate more subtle parking controls that are friendlier to local shops/businesses.  By restricting parking for a short period during the day prevents all day parking by commuters.  The Kennington/Oval/Vauxhall area has all day parking controls thereby adversely affecting businesses that rely on day time business activity.