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Bonkers Blog August 2013

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5 August (Part 1) - Are Bexley’s Controlled Parking Zone charges illegal?

Peter CraskeAlmost certainly.

As has been widely reported, the High Court ruled that Barnet council acted illegally when it raised CPZ charges from £40 to £100 a year. This was because Barnet increased the price for no reason other than to raise revenue and Barnet solicitor David Attfield was not inclined to let them get away with it.

Bexley council also increased its charges; from £35 to £100, £120 in some places, and made little secret of the fact that it did so to raise money.

On 3rd November 2010 Bexley council’s Cabinet met to consider a number of proposals aimed at either reducing expenditure or raising revenue. Each cabinet member made proposals; a rather impressive total of 320 money saving and revenue raising ideas. 24 of them came from councillor Peter Craske. He made no attempt to disguise his motives. Here’s an extract from Craske’s list and his own stated reasons…

• Advertising in car parks - Reason; Maximise Income
• Increase Parking and Permit charges - Reason; Maximise Income
• Introduce Evening and Sunday charges - Reason; Maximise Income
• Introduce parking charges at Leisure Centres - Reason; Maximise Income

It looks like there is no need to take Bexley to the High Court. They have already owned up as to why they whacked up charges, it was to get more money.

They cannot deny the increased charges were anything other than a blatantly illegal money making exercise, They said so in black and white. Those proposals were all approved and published in a booklet entitled ‘Budget Strategy’. It could hardly be clearer that it was all about the money.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill’s introduction said it was about “managing the money we get” and to “reduce the burden that has been falling on taxpayers”. However it was councillor Peter Craske, then Cabinet Member for Transport (before the position was elevated to ‘Public Realm’), who really let the cat out of the bag when he said; “In order to avoid making further spending reductions in key services elsewhere, there will be some increases in charges and significant changes to the way traffic and parking schemes will be carried out”.

It could hardly be clearer that he was intent on paying for ‘key services elsewhere’ with parking revenue. An illegal act.

When residents complained about the Controlled Parking Zone charges, Craske concocted a load of false statistics, claiming that each permit, including maintenance of the Zones, cost the council £250. It was an obvious lie and the figure was further rigged by including the cost of librarians who once in a while might have been asked for help with a CPZ application.

Barnet council has been compelled to begin the process of handing back their ill-gotten gains. Where’s Bexley’s David Attfield when you need him?


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