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Friday, 6 December, 2002, 17:17 GMT
Parking squeezed as charge looms
Victoria Park
Victoria Park is an area of shops and cafes
Angry residents in an east London borough have held a public meeting to protest at council plans to restrict parking in their area ahead of the introduction of congestion charging.

They claim the plans in Hackney would reduce available parking by 50%, harming local businesses and leaving them nowhere to keep their cars.

The council says it is trying to prevent commuters leaving their cars there to avoid the congestion charge.

It is one of 22 councils across the capital which have so far taken up money offered by Transport for London (TfL) to combat any negative impact of congestion charging.

Parking restrictions
Camden, Islington
Barnet, Brent
Waltham Forest
Southwark, Wandsworth
Newham, Ealing
Enfield, Harrow
Haringey, Hounslow
Lewisham, Croydon
Merton, Sutton
Greenwich, Bromley
Hackney, Hillingdon

Hackney Council plans to put double yellow lines in front of all the businesses and introduce Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ), which restricts parking to residents.

They include two florists, who have several vans each, three restaurants, two food shops, a pottery shop and minicab office which runs 17 vehicles.

Tanya Fitzgerald, a florist, is worried it will ruin her company.

She said: "I don't know if my business will be viable, particularly with double yellow lines outside on the main road where a lot of my business is impulse buying."

She will have to pay 320 a year for each business vehicle for a parking permit.

For residents, a CPZ will operate from 0700 GMT to 1900 GMT Monday to Saturday, costing them 80 a year for a permit.

Cash fund

They claim the council is trying to steamroller the plans through without proper consultation.

The council is using money put up by TfL, which has set aside 100m to fund schemes to tackle any problems in outer boroughs caused by the congestion charge.

Residents meeting
Feelings ran high at a public meeting
But residents suspect the CPZ is just another way of raising money.

Patrick Britton, of the Victoria Park Traders Association, said: "It's a good 20-25 minute walk to the nearest tube station.

" We have an inadequate bus service, so commuters aren't going to be attracted to this area anyway."

But Hackney councillor Vincent Stops told BBC London: "There's parking pressure in the area. That parking pressure will not decline.

"Hackney Borough Council is responding to congestion charging in exactly the same way as every other borough on the boundary."

Local businesses say around 30% of their trade comes from outside their area and they are seriously worried people will be driven away.

BBC London's Jen Topping
"Victoria Park in Hackney is a quiet but thriving area with shops and cafes."

Click here to go to BBC London Online

BBC London's guide to congestion charging
See also:

05 Oct 02 | England
01 Oct 02 | England
23 Sep 02 | England
15 Sep 02 | Politics
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