Sunday, October 13, 2013

Parking Yes, Swimming No!

This is a guest post from Morris Hickey.

The Ilford Recorder reports on its website (9 October) a comment from the Deputy Leader of Redbridge Council regarding the £370,000 cost of reducing pay & display parking charges to 30p for 30 minutes. He says the council can afford it.

Amazing! Proof of a view that I have held for many years, namely, that despite all the financial restraint, cuts, closures, and withdrawal of services governments (both national and local) can always find the funds to do the things that they want to do. Were I of a cynical nature then I might begin to wonder whether this pre-Christmas magnanimity had anything to do with the council elections that will follow just 5 months later.

But hold on! A reduction in parking charges is allegedly affordable. A new swimming pool is reportedly not affordable. The sum of £370,000 per annum for 40 years would repay a loan of £10-millions @ 4%, or £8-millions @ 6%. Local authorities are often able to borrow at interest rates below these, so a larger capital sum might be possible. Whilst neither of these sums would provide the grandiose 50-metre Olympic standard pool, there should be sufficient for a medium-sized leisure scheme in the south of the borough in a location where the council already owns the land.

One might also ask whether the leaders of Redbridge council ever look at what is happening in neighbouring authorities. In Havering, for example, they are providing their third public swimming pool – and I am told that it will cost Havering Council just £1-million. How are they doing it for such a relatively small sum? I understand they have entered into a land-swap deal with a major retailer. A prime site owned by the council will be transferred for development by the retailer who, in exchange, will fund a leisure centre elsewhere with ownership to be vested in the council. Councillor Prince, before he migrated to Redbridge, was a Havering councillor. Is there some reason why he and his former colleagues appear not to be on speaking terms?

If Havering can do this why cannot Redbridge? Does Redbridge own a prime site that could be similarly transferred? Yes – the town hall car park. Had certain earlier plans materialised that car park would by now be Vanity (or Unity) Square.

Where there’s the will there’s a way.

Morris Hickey

2 comments:

  1. Total agreement on this. Where there is a will there is a way. Redbridge needs at least one more swimming pool and a minimum of 33m. Fact.

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  2. Dear Barkingside 21,

    I am, or rather I was, a regular user of Craven Gardens car park when I visit my friend who lives in Forest Road, the Library, the Fairlop Oak or to do some shopping in the High Street. I do not like to drive down the High Street, let alone park in it and I am, or rather was, quite happy to pay the parking charges.

    What has changed? – well, change being the operative word. I always make sure I have enough change or coins to pay the fee before I start my journey. The trouble is that neither machine at the car park will accept coins. The one adjacent to Craven Gardens is “out of order” AGAIN and now the other one at the back of the car park will not accept physical items of Her Majesty’s currency.

    Last Friday, my friend who comes here from Theydon Bois to meet with myself and others for lunch used the facility to pay by credit card. She could not understand the gentleman on the other end of the telephone line and neither it seems could he understand her, for the registration number on the printed ticket was incorrect – and she sat through her lunch worried that a punctilious warden had issued her with a ticket for another person’s error.

    What of me? I got back in my car and parked in the car park behind State Mansions. The fee may be 10p dearer but the cost is cheaper when taking into account the premium charged by Redbridge Council for the privilege of paying by telephone and the cost of the telephone call itself.

    Another example of Redbridge Council shooting itself in the foot and undermining trade in the High Street. The pre-election bribe, for that is what it is, of 30p for 30 minutes does nothing for me or any other serious shopper with money in her purse and the time to spend it.

    Would you please convey my best wishes to Councillors Bond and Patel in whatever alternative occupation they may take up after May 2014.

    As for swimming, I do not understand why anyone would wish to immerse their body in a public swimming pool but my husband, my children and my grandchildren seem to enjoy it. So I am quite happy for these funds to be reallocated as Mr Hickey suggests.

    Angry of Woodford Bridge (Mrs)

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