Tower Hamlets mayor slams Poplar Harca Housing for 'punishing' families with 250pc parking fee hike
PUBLISHED: 17:31 16 March 2016 | UPDATED: 11:14 18 March 2016
Social landlords in London's deprived East End are whacking up car-parking fees for families on their housing estates by 250 per cent.
Charges planned by Poplar Housing & Regeneration Community Association for a space would put fees up from under £2 a week to £7 in one fell swoop.
Now Tower Hamlets council’s majority Labour group is calling on the organisation to stop the charge and to consult with the families.
Tenants themselves are also planning to protest outside the housing body’s offices in Bow Common during next Tuesday’s board meeting and again outside the Town Hall before the council’s meeting the following evening when a motion condemning Poplar Harca is debated.
Mayor John Biggs has accused the association of “punishing” the families just for owning cars.
“The lack of transparency and consultation with the decision to increase parking fees is something we must challenge,” the mayor said.
“I am certain that they have other options that don’t involve punishing residents.”
Poplar Harca with its 5,000 former council properties is “a social landlord”, he points out.
The mayor blames the Tory government’s planned cuts in social rent subsidies for forcing local housing providers to find cash from extra charges like parking.
“The government chose to reduce social rents by one per cent a year for four years,” Biggs added.
“The effect is to put challenges on social housing providers which have a knock-on effect on families.”
Tenants have already complained to the East London Advertiser about the hype and the reduction in the number of parking spaces on the former council estates now run by Poplar Harca.
The year-on-year increase “in percentage terms is high”, the housing body admits, citing low fees over the past few years now being set at £1 a day for a parking space. The rise comes after eight years of “marginal increases” from £1.49 a week in 2008 to £1.96 by 2015—the sudden hype to £7 blamed on the government slashing rent subsidies.
“This affects a minority 20pc of residents,” a spokesman claimed. “It means we are increasing our income to reinvest back into our community.”
But it cuts no ice with angry car-owners who feel they are being singled out to fill the cash shortfall.
Up to 200 are expected to protest outside the Town Hall next Wednesday evening, as well as the demo the night before outside Poplar Harca’s headquarters in St Paul’s Way, Bow Common, when its management board meets.