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week sees the first significant sign of Bexley council showing its face to the
public again as the Public Realm Scrutiny Committee gets back to work on Monday
3rd October. 19:30 in the Council Chamber.
The Agenda includes Bexley council’s Parking Accounts. Probably there will be further comment here after the meeting takes place but some readers have an insatiable desire for Craske-bashing, so here are a few initial thoughts.
To mask the whole truth the Parking Account report starts off with carefully chosen words. “[Bexley] retains some of the lowest parking charges in the area” and goes on to give as proof the single nearby example that is more expensive than Bexley. Councillor Craske goes on to compare the number of penalties (PCNs) issued by Bexley with the two most punitive boroughs in London, Camden and Newham. Bexley is totally unlike either; maybe Craske should have compared us with the same borough that he used for the parking charge comparison, Greenwich, but that would show Bexley in a very bad light, so he doesn’t. It's not the usual Craske lie but it’s the next best thing.
Craske omits to tell us that both his chosen boroughs use fixed and mobile CCTV for prosecuting every driving mistake; U-turns, box-junctions etc. as well as yellow lines. Bexley currently only enforces bus stops and zig-zags from mobile CCTV. Yellow lines are not included. Craske plans to follow Camden and Newham before the year is out in order to “maximise value” of the CCTV system. Why do you think he was so keen to extend it to Bexley village and Crayford?
Bexley has the second highest level of car ownership in London, and only 24% of its 91,000 households do not have a car. 27% have two or more so the number of cars exceeds households. (Source : Bexley council’s Parking Account). Interesting statistics because councillor Craske said that in the first three days of ‘pay by phone only’ parking 180 people rushed to register and implied that was a huge success. If the momentum can be maintained and all were Bexley residents it is going to take four and a half years for the potential number of local users of ‘pay by phone’ to equal the number able to use the meters before Craske meddled with the system. If you assume two drivers per vehicle it will take almost a decade! That is not good for local business or council parking revenues. Last year’s parking revenues went in the same direction. Craske managed to engineer a fall in income of 20·8%, down from £669,000 in 2009/10 to £530,000 in 2010/11. He’s a class act and no mistake.
In the Strategy 2014 budgetary proposals councillor Craske said he wanted to raise parking and permit revenues by £378,000 over the next three years. How is he doing? The Parking Accounts show Craske made a profit of £842,000 from parking in the year to last April so he needs to be even more punitive to get it up by nearly 50%. Two years ago, the last year in which full accounting details were provided, the profit was £954,000 so Craske’s war on the motorists is proving to be counter-productive.
It gets worse. Projected profit from parking schemes was allocated to various schemes costing a total of £962,000. The money is spent but the income didn't go up; it went down and there was a shortfall. If Craske is as successful with the years to 2014 you can kiss goodbye to the much vaunted saving of £36 million. Craske has achieved nothing apart from annoying the population and driving more businesses to the brink. But his ineptitude could yet cause council tax to rise.