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Camden New Journal - by RICHARD OSLEY
Published: 21 June 2007
Parents and pupils protest outside town hall on Monday
Parents and pupils protest outside town hall on Monday
Parents lose fight to save park permit

School-run parking to be phased out after ‘secret deal’

PARENTS have lost their fight to stop school-run parking permits from being
phased out.

Campaigners, who lobbied councillors at Monday’s full council meeting with placards and banners, said a deal had been cooked up behind closed doors and that results of a public consultation had been ignored.
They said that “goodwill” was disintegrating because an announcement against keeping the parking dispensations had been made earlier than expected and before senior councillors had heard final appeals from parents and schools.
The bitter row centres on the thick congestion that builds up around private schools in Hampstead, particularly the Fitzjohns’ Avenue area, each morning.
Camden began withdrawing permits used on a gradual basis two years ago, but ever since parents have been campaign to get the policy reversed.
They hoped to convince the council’s leadership to change its mind at a special meeting on the issue scheduled for tonight (Thursday).
But, even before they appeared at the town hall, the two leaders of the Lib-Dem and Conservative coalition Keith Moffitt and Andrew Marshall said they had already decided to slash the number of dispensations it issues.
In a statement emailed to the New Journal on Monday morning, they said: “We recognise that this decision will not be popular with all, but we have a duty to show leadership in the best interests of the community as a whole
“We want to thank all those that contributed to the consultation and the wider debate and we believe that, while inevitably not every view has been accepted, cumulatively the scale of the consultation has helped produce a better end result.”
Camden will cut the number of permits issued to 1,000 in September – 16 per cent of the original number. By next September, the number of permits will be further cut to 500. The figures are slightly higher than originally planned for by the previous Labour administration but not sufficient enough to dampen the parents’ anger.
The early announcement – it is unusual for councillors to indicate how they will vote before an official meeting – took the wind out of the sails of permit campaign.
Parents reacted by challenging councillors on the steps of the town hall as they arrived for Monday’s all-member session.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Ralph Scott was trapped for 15 minutes by the ambush. Others managed to escape a confrontation by using a side entrance.
During the meeting two men interrupted the proceedings by unfurling a banner from the public balcony which read: Let us stop till we drop.
They were ushered out of the gallery as they shouted: “We will vote you out.”
Vicky Fobel, from Schools Travel Action Group campaign team, said: “It looks as though Camden councillors made their mind up about this issue before they even embarked on the consultation.
“Camden residents engaged in the consultation in good faith but their views are being completely ignored.”
She added: “By failing to try to reach a compromise, the Council will lose the goodwill of parents and schools, which is critical to achieving solutions.”

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