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Protest outside Havering Town Hall over parking charge increases

The crowd chanted “save our streets” at the town hall last night (credit: Francesca, The Enquirer)

Residents have been protesting the increase in parking charges in Havering outside Romford Town Hall. 

They say the price hike, which also replaced 30-minutes free parking with a £1.50 fee in Upminster and Hornchurch, is killing both high streets. 

It is to raise money for a £40 million project to fix roads and pavements in the borough over the coming years. 

Muhanad Zgaibey, who runs Click@ in Upminster, said they’ve turned the area into a “ghost town” and it is “scary” how much his weekly earnings have already gone down. 

“It’s like they’re asking us to put our shutters down but we have families and kids. Whoever made the decision should have imagined they had a family like us. 

“We can’t just put the shutters down after nine years of investing my money, my wife’s money, and my kids’ money into the business to build a good relationship with the community.” 

Parents are spending £3 a day picking up their kids (Credit: Emerson Park Residents Association)

More than 200 people attended the demonstration prior to the Council meeting yesterday. 

“They’ve not listened to anyone, they’ve not even considered putting it out for a vote and asking what people think. They’ve just done it,” said John Hoggett, owner of Roots restaurant in Upminster.

“At the moment it’s the quietest I’ve ever seen Upminster. You can park anywhere in the high street now at any time of day, they’re not even making any more money, it’s stupid.

“A simple solution would be to make Hoppy Hall and Aldi car parks free and keep the same tariffs everywhere else, then once those car parks are full everyone else has to pay.

“But at the moment, Hoppy Hall has three cars a day. What they’ll do is put houses on there because they’ll say the parking isn’t being used.” 

Businesses are struggling to cope with the drop in footfall (Credit: Emerson Park Residents Association)

Parents are having to spend £3 a day picking up their kids from school, according to Upminster and Cranham Residents Group councillor, Gillian Ford. 

She compared the situation in Havering to one in Southend, where the council has not moved forward with proposals to increase parking costs.

“We need something sensible like that here, just to get the high streets walking again because right now it’s very slow with very few people walking around,” said Cllr Ford. 

Independent Resident’s Group councillor for Gooshays, Jan Sargent, described the price increase as “utter madness”, adding: “I just can’t understand why they would implement these charges when they know the shop keepers and our high streets are struggling. 

“I can understand they need money for front line services but surely there must be another way.”

Independent councillors tabled a motion to get the council to reconsider the parking charge changes, but that was defeated.

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