Last Sunday I described the current Residents' Parking Scheme as divisive in that opposing views within communities were becoming polarised with competing websites and leafleting, but I hadn't realised quite how far things have already deteriorated. At last night's Council 'call-in' meeting one of the pro-RPS campaigners reported that serious threats have been made via email, specifically to set fire to her car and house.
The email said "hope you have a fire proof letterbox" and warned her she also faced having excrement posted through her door. The recipient, criminal lawyer Suzanne Gardner, said "I had an e-mail from what turned out to be a fake name, saying our car might be burned, and that this person and several others wanted to come to set fire to our house, so they hope we have a fireproof letter box".
All this in relatively well-heeled Cliftonwood. What will happen when RPS is rolled out into less middle class areas where people are less inclined to vent their anger through such literary media as emails? I think this underlines the point I made in my previous post - that we urgently need to develop a less confrontational way of progressing the Controlled Parking Zones that are essential to cope the excess of demand over supply when it comes to inner city parking spaces.
My suggestion remains that people should have the choice of opting in or out on an individual household basis. This would do much to reduce, although not entirely eliminate, the sense of RPS being imposed on unwilling residents. Anyone who didn't like it would simply remain out of the RPS scheme and continue to compete for those parking spaces that remained uncontrolled, which would be whatever was left over after enough spaces had been brought within the RPS to meet the basic (one car per household?) needs of those who have opted in.
Of course in practice everyone would realise, sooner or later, that opting in to RPS is hugely advantageous and the cost, at least the £30 for the first car, purely nominal. Even a household with 2 cars will only pay £55 per car which is a tiny fraction of the value of such parking spaces. So the net effect will be that RPS will be accepted more readily in the first place and spread more rapidly, but on an entirely voluntary basis.
One critic of my proposal said that it would result in more motorists cruising around looking for the remaining uncontrolled spaces, which is true if there were significant numbers of uncontrolled spaces remaining . But I believe that in practice virtually everyone would opt in once they saw the disastrous consequences of remaining out of RPS, so there would be few if any uncontrolled spaces. The more rapid spread of RPS beyond the pilot areas would result in less 'cruising' for parking spaces overall.
Pics - Pavement parking courtesy of Ambra Vale residents.