Havering's Cabinet, consisting of HRA and Labour Cllrs, have voted through a proposal that will mean the closure of at least two major car parks in Romford.
Meeting at the Town Hall this evening (9th August 2023) they voted on a report titled Site Disposals under the Asset Disposal Programme 2022-2028.
The report can be viewed HERE.
By approving the report, Cabinet give authority to the Assistant Director of Housing, to dispose of both Como Street and Angel Way car parks.
Following a strong campaign, in which I collected over 550 resident signatures, Slaney Way car park is not on the list. Our campaign did not specifically ask for Slaney Way to be saved, but it was clear that losing that site would have the most negative impact on Romford. We made that clear.
The sale of Slaney Way is 'subject to further appraisal'.
I'm deeply disappointed that the cabinet agreed for these sites to be sold. It is now almost guaranteed that they will be sold to developers and that planning permission will be sought to turn them into flats. Development on Como Street has previously been turned down.
The Consultation That Wasn't.
The most disappointing part of all of this was the consultation. I believe it shows complete disregard for local residents and, quite frankly, the administration should be ashamed of it.
The consultation met all the legal requirements. It was displayed on a lamppost for a few weeks and was in the back of the Romford Recorder. But, according to the this report, it only got one reply.
As a ward Councillor, I was not told about the consultation. So, I could not inform residents. When I found out about it, and that it had concluded, I started a petition asking the council to "re-run the consultation on selling Romford's car parks".
550 people signed it. The response? The Leader stood up and told me that "it wasn't to sell the car parks, but to remove them from service". A shameful hiding behind legalease and process. He knew full well what I meant.
To then discover that this report goes on to give people power to sell the car-parks is shameful.
A comment in the report, on the 1 objection, says;
"The level of response was very low. The Council needs to balance the one objection against wider priorities and benefits that will be realised by progressing with the disposal. Having considered the one objection, it is recommended that Cabinet overrules the objection."
I wonder, had the consultation been more widely advertised, and 550 people objected to it, would the recommendation be the same? It feels like the low response is being used as an excuse to push ahead with the sale.
We must now prepare to asses any planning applications that will be put forward for the sites. I will notify residents of these in my email newsletter and social media. Give me a follow on these to stay alert.
Once we are notified of an application, I will then activate a local group to decide how we reply.
The car park closures are going to result in the loss of over 40 disabled parking bays. In the report, the level of car park use is set out. We can see that some car parks are only ever 40% full. What we can't see is how often the disabled spaces are full. They may be use more often.
This has been raised as a concern with the cabinet.