We are disappointed at the news that the Labour Minister of Culture and Tourism has approved the introduction of car parking charges in Richmond and Bushy parks, despite strong opposition from residents and local Liberal Democrats.
The Government Minister Margaret Hodge has attempted to defend her decision, stating that visitors to these parks are rich enough to pay - and dismissed out of hand my concerns about the enormous impact which diverted traffic and parking will have on residential areas.
Yes Mrs Hodge, some areas of Richmond and Kingston are relatively wealthy. This is beside the point. Elderly and disabled residents who rely on their cars in order to visit the park will be excluded from taking regular exercise and leisure in our beautiful community asset by the astronomical annual costs of parking.
Residents living close to the park will also be burdened by unwanted extra congestion as visitors use residential streets to avoid in-park charges.
Why did the Minister not listen to local voices? We are deeply disappointed by her actions and will be launching a petition to gauge local opposition to this unfair and uninformed decision.
Sign the petition here.
Kingston’s Executive Member for the Environment and Transport met with the Minister in her House of Commons office on Monday 18th January.
Cllr Bob Steed said: “I reinforced Kingston’s concerns about the introduction of parking charge in the local Royal Parks face to face with Mrs Hodge. The Labour Minister was unfortunately very forceful on the issue.
“I support Kingston Lib Dem’s petition, and will also be working closely with TfL, London Councils and other local partners to try and improve public transport links to the park.
“We cannot let disabled, elderly and low-income visitors be forced out of our Richmond Park by the Labour Minister and her parking charges.”