New parking charges for a new decade set to reduce pollution in Merton.

Merton Council is to step up action for its cleaner air campaign in the New Year by introducing new parking charges.

The new charges, which are being introduced following substantial consultations with residents, will apply to controlled parking zones, public parking zones, public car parks, on street parking and parking permits in Merton. The new parking charge structure is to be launched on Tuesday 14 January 2020.

The initiative aims to discourage the reliance on car use to reduce toxic pollution from vehicles, and to help residents enjoy the health benefits of taking more journeys by bike, on foot and by public transport.

Merton, is designated an air quality management area and so action must be taken to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide, of which around 60 per cent comes from vehicle emissions.  Thousands of Londoners die a premature death, each year from the toxic fumes from vehicles, which can particularly impact negatively on children’s health.

In July, the council unanimously agreed to step up its commitment to combating carbon emissions and rising temperatures by declaring a Climate Change  Emergency. Under the declaration the council pledged to achieve carbon neutrality for the whole of Merton by 2050 and to make every effort for the council to be a carbon neutral organisation by 2030.

The council has already introduced a host of measures to encourage residents to use more sustainable modes of transport. This has included the creation of six kilometres of new cycle routes and 651 more cycle parking spaces over the last six years. More than 100 electric vehicle charging points have been installed across the borough, so far.

However, currently in Merton, 42% of journeys are made by car, compared to 30% on foot, 3% by bike and 24% on public transport. Nearly two thirds of respondents to a recent public consultation agreed that the council should encourage motorists to use more sustainable forms of transport.

Availability to public transport was a key criteria the council used to decide how to divide the borough into parking charges zones. Places with fewer transport options will have lower parking charges than those which enjoy ample public transport links.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment, Councillor Tobin Byers said:

“We are deeply committed to doing everything we can to improve the quality of the air we breathe in Merton, to protect the health of our residents now and for future generations. For this reason we are introducing these new parking charges for the start of the new decade.  I do understand that some residents will have to pay more to park, however I know many residents do want us to take all the action we can to reduce toxic air in Merton as a matter of urgency. Our new parking charges structure is just one element of our work in this area.”

“Merton is unique in London to have rail, tube, bus and tram links and so we do think it is appropriate to encourage residents to access more of these forms of transport and cut down on their car use.”

Income from parking charges can only be spent on parking service and transport projects. Cash raised also goes towards the Freedom Pass – London’s concessionary travel scheme. Merton has spent around £27million on the Freedom Pass during the last three years.

Editors notes:

Notices of the new parking charge structure will be displayed on all streets involved

Merton Council’s public consultation on its parking changes was held between 29 March and 5 May 2019. The results and a record of how the decision was made can be found on the parking web page.  Visit www.merton.gov.uk/parkingcharges2020

Merton Council has been ranked joint second in London, and among the top authorities across the country by Friends of the Earth for its climate change action. For information on how everyone can get involved visit www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange.