Romford Market To Close - and other budget cuts
Havering's Resident's Association and Labour run council has announced plans to close Romford's Sunday market.
The plans were announced in a series of budget savings that well and truly milk Romford, treating it as second-class in comparison to areas such as Hornchurch and Upminster.
Savings proposals, to close the Sunday market, are estimated to saving Havering Council just £125,000. This is being announced just days after the council agreed to spend £162,000 on 'consulting on North Street roundabout'.
Alongside cutting the Sunday market, pitch fees for the traders will increase, to bring in just £30k more and free parking on Sunday will also be scrapped to generate a further £350,000.
Sign my petition to save Romford market
Havering is in a tough financial position, we know that, but these decisions are not being forced onto Labour and the so-called resident's associations. They are making choices.
This is clear, because they have also produced a list of 'rejected savings', this includes scrapping the free 30 minutes parking. Something Romford doesn't benefit from. If scrapped, the council would generate an additional £1million in revenue. Enough to keep Sunday parking free, the Sunday market running, and to keep our Havering dedicated policing team.
Yes, they are defunding the local policing team. This will save £300k, but it will hurt Romford a lot more than it'll hit the rest of Havering, as we experience higher levels of crime here.
Other proposed cuts that concern me include;
Removing the PCN discount on appeal: This one will hurt and it will actively discriminate.
At the moment, if you appeal a parking fine, the countdown clock on the reduced rate (Pay within x days to get 50% off) is frozen. This allows people to appeal incorrectly issued fines. Under the new rules, the clock will keep ticking.
Havering has just introduced the new pay-by-phone parking, which is experiencing technical issues. I used it and I still got a fine. It took 51 days to respond to me and tell me the fine was incorrectly issued. 51.
By that time, the countdown clock will be long-over.
So, anyone incorrectly issued a fine will now be bullied into paying by the scare of slow administration. With many older people struggling with the pay-by-phone system already, and parking appeals having to be done online, we're actively discriminating against some of the most vulnerable.
Reduced Gully Cleansing:
Have you seen the rain recently?
Havering has announced a saving of £75k by reducing the cleaning of street gullies...
In their defence, they have said they'll focus on hot-spots. Having seen some of the flooding across Havering, I'd say most of it is 'hot-spots'.
Fortnightly Bin Collections:
Yes, their favourite 'saving' is back, but marked down as for a 'future year'. Hopefully this will give them time to get the maths right.
Proposals are that bins will be collected every 2 weeks, with wheelie bins introduced. I've already shown that the cost of introducing wheelie bins will be over £2m in year one, something that will take 12 years to get back in the previously mentioned savings.
You can watch my speech on this HERE.
There are some very painful cuts ahead, cuts that have to be made as inflation has increased the cost of things like social care. But these cuts fall unfairly hard on Romford.
Killing our town, by introducing more expensive parking, more often, whilst reducing our market, is going to rip the life out of the heart of the borough. These are decisions clearly being made by people who don't live in or use Romford and they are going to hurt.
Whilst I wish to work with the administration as much as possible, and I've shown that I do, I can't stand by them and defend a lot of what they've proposed.
They have made some ideological choices. Choices to protect their interests, to protect Hornchurch and Upminster over Romford, instead of delivering a fair balance of cuts.
We should all be in this together, if it's a cut for us then it should be a cut for them.
They rejected cutting the free parking in Hornchurch and Upminster, they rejected cutting the Queen's Theatre's subsidy of £100k a year. They rejected cutting the grass less often, they rejected more 'app-only parking' just days after launching it across most of Romford.
Romford will bear the brunt of these cuts, and I'll be fighting tooth and nail to get us a fair deal.