On July 12th, I submitted a petition to the Council asking that they re-run the consultation on disposing of Romford's car parks. 550 residents signed the petition.
The Council have now replied and declined our request.
The council have declined on the following basis;
1) The principle of disposing of the car parks was agreed by the Cabinet (HRA & Labour) on Feb 8th 2023
2) The council complied with the full requirements of the consultation. I.E, they did what they had to, legally They believe that they went further than many councils would, by posting a notice in the Romford Recorder
3) The proposal is to "Withdraw the car parks from use" not "to sell them"
4) Cabinet will now consider the results of the investigation
5) If there is a proposal to develop the car parks, we'll have a chance to object at planning stage
The decision to refuse our request has been considered by Cabinet Members (HRA & Labour) and they see no reason to re-run the consultation.
I am, of course, very disappointed by this.
One has to acknowledge that the council did do everything they had to, legally. But I want our council to be run by people who are leaders, not just administrators. Leaders go about and beyond, to engage with residents and they do more than they have to.
Havering is lead by the Havering Resident's Association, in a coalition with Labour. I'd have expected a resident's association to know the importance of getting resident feedback.
It's also super-disappointing that the council roll out the excuse of "We're not selling them, yet, we're just consulting on closing them". The Council Leader said the same thing at the council meeting.
What difference does it make, to residents, if the car parks are being 'sold' or 'closed'? They will still be out of use and it will still impact the local community. When the Sapphire Leisure Centre was being built, Slaney Way was part closed and used as a mini-depot for construction work. The Brookside Theatre saw a huge dip in ticket sales during this time.
Should the car park close, the theatre is at risk. The car park also serves the local synagogue.
I have a suspicion that, by simply closing the car parks, the Council are trying to prove that they won't be needed. They'll close them and then, in a years time, vote to sell them on the basis that they are not being used.
When considering planning permission, planning authorities look at the use of local facilities which may be scraped. Closing the car parks will allow the council to say "Look, it's not been in use for a year, so there's no loss". They tick another box in getting the sites ready for a new tower-block.
I'm asking you to write to the Cabinet Member and Leader of the Council. Tell them why you want these car parks saved.
Perhaps you park in Slaney Way when visiting Brookside Theatre. Maybe you find the open-air nature of it more safe than a multi-storey elsewhere in the town. Perhaps you pop through the gate, from the carpark to the Theatre, meaning you have a quick and safe journey?
Maybe you use Como St when visiting the town centre? Perhaps it's a useful car park for avoiding the ring-road, when coming down from Mawneys of Collier Row.
Maybe, like me, you're a cynic. Perhaps you see this as step one in ticking the boxes for developing the site.
I will make sure that I attend Cabinet, when this is debated. It's my belief that, at a minimum, they need to keep Slaney Way car park open.
If you want to write to your local councillor, find their details on the link below.
For now, you can contact the relevant Cabinet members at;
Barry Mugglestone (HRA) - Member for the Environment (includes car parks): firstname.lastname@example.org
Ray Morgon (HRA) - Leader of the council: Councillorray.email@example.com
The campaign doesn't stop here.