Residents and people who work in Merton are being encouraged to have their say in a public consultation about a proposed new set of parking charges, which aim to reduce air pollution and support drivers to make more journeys by walking, cycling and using public transport.
The consultation, which has been launched today is about plans to introduce a new charging system for on street parking, car parks, residents’ permits and visitors’ permits.
The new system is being proposed to encourage people to make more journeys by bike or on foot to help reduce air pollution levels.
Air pollution is recognised as a major contributor to poor health, with more than 9,000 premature deaths attributed to poor air quality in London. Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts; it is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer, and studies suggest it may be associated with cognitive ageing. Air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society: children and older people, and anyone with long term health conditions.
Merton has already adopted a new Air Quality Action Plan, which includes a number of important measures to tackle toxic air in the borough. The whole borough has been designated an air quality management area, which means more must be done to reduce levels of small particles and nitrogen dioxide.
Nearly two thirds of this pollutant is emitted from vehicles, particularly in town centres, which are often congested. The council has already introduced walking and cycling initiatives; anti-idling measures; car clubs, electric vehicle charging points and the diesel levy to take the most polluting vehicles off the road. The council is now seeking to use its parking strategy to adjust driver behaviour and ensure that we can provide a modern, efficient and environmentally sustainable transport policy for residents, visitors, and businesses.
The proposed new set of parking charges is led by geography. It takes into account public transport links in each area – parking in areas well served by public transport will cost more than in places which are less well connected. Another key factor is congestion hotspots where increasing the charge for a bay and limiting how long a vehicle can park there can help to reduce the pollution from vehicles circling the area looking for a space.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Tobin Byers, said: “The council has already taken a number of measures to tackle the poor air quality in the borough, but we need to do more. A significant proportion of the pollution generated in Merton comes from our vehicles, so we need to try and reduce car usage and encourage people to use more sustainable modes of transport, which will help improve our air quality.
“We all have a part to play in reducing pollution levels in our borough by making more journeys on foot or by cycling, rather than driving. Merton is the only London borough to have trains, two Underground lines, trams and buses, which means people who live in, work in and visit the borough could leave their car at home more often.
“I would urge everyone to have their say in the consultation on the proposed new parking charges, which aim to improve air quality and encourage more active travel, particularly for local journeys.”
The consultation runs until 5 May 2019.
For more information and to have your say, visit: merton.gov.uk/parkingconsultation2019
Statutory traffic management order consultations will run within the period of the main consultation.
A decision is due to be made by Cabinet in the summer.