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Bonkers Blog August 2011

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21 August - Craske’s delusional parking statistics

Councillor CraskeI was reminded by readers that my comment on Councillor Craske’s misleading statistics on car parking did not include a reference to Bexley council charging for central area car parking for 24 hours a day and seven days a week, so I thought I should look into Craske’s figures again. In doing so I immediately made a mistake, I gathered information about Bromley’s car parks. It was an easy mistake to make, Bromley is much more comparable with Bexley. If you visit Greenwich, Newham or Lewisham you will see they all look totally different to Bexley with a different character. They are, as Craske was keen to point out, Labour controlled, and like it or not, Labour areas tend to be poorer, older and more run-down. Which is chicken and which is egg I am not getting into.

So having gathered Bromley’s figures in error; how many car parking spaces does Bromley provide? 4,859 (excluding motorcycle bays) against Bexley’s 2,830 (Craske’s figure). So that’s why he didn’t want to mention Bromley. Bromley is third on the list of Outer London council tax rates too. Bexley is a miserable twelfth. Perhaps it is worth repeating that Bromley charges £35 a year for a Residents’ Parking Permit (up to £75 in a few central locations) and Craske has trumped up figures to justify £100 (£120 in some places) across the borough blighted by his presence.

Craske wants you to believe that his car parking spaces are not only more numerous but cheaper than elsewhere and claims Bexleyheath centre at a £1 an hour is a bargain compared to Greenwich’s £2.50, but central Greenwich is a tourist area not a shopping centre. Let’s compare like with like. Greenwich’s shopping areas peak at 80 pence an hour, much the same as in Bromley where some are 80 pence and one is 90. Councillor Craske must like his reputation for lying to the electorate and at council meetings. (Numerous examples provided on request if “the cheapest parking, and the most parking in South East London” claimed on his web page is not enough for you.)

Craske criticises Lewisham for expensive car parks, which is true, and for providing only 1,795 spaces against Bexley’s 2,830. 63% of Bexley’s total; but Lewisham borough is heavily built up and only half the area of Bexley. Look at the figures in terms of the size of the borough and Lewisham trounces Bexley’s provision. Similarly Newham is 59% the area of Bexley but it has two (that I know of) ‘out of town’ shopping areas on the site of the old Beckton gas works and the docks with extensive privately provided free car parking. Bromley and Greenwich have some ‘out of town’ shopping but if there is any in Bexley I’ve not noticed, apart from the odd DIY store.

Comparing car parking facilities is fraught with difficulty, to do it properly one would have to include levels of car ownership, distance between residential and shopping areas and public transport. On its own admission, Bexley has poor North South transport links and it being much bigger than the boroughs Craske chose for comparison suggests the distances involved may be greater. Greater affluence may mean more car ownership. All of those things lead to a greater car parking requirement but on borough area alone, Bexley council has nothing to be proud of. The fact that Craske is crowing about carefully chosen statistics smacks of desperation and he has good reason to be desperate. The most recent petition statistics to come my way showed 42 doors knocked on and 40 more eager to sign.

On the subject of shopping centres, the BBC put a new page on their website yesterday illustrating the history of shopping malls in London. Bexleyheath’s Broadway gets a mention (fifth image) as it is said to be typical of a 1980s shopping development. And speaking of the BBC; yes I did have a long conversation on Friday with the BBC journalist about the lack of transparency and obstacles put in its way by Bexley council. Always nice to be able to spread the word about the ’funny business’ for which Bexley’s Conservatives are becoming well known.


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