Protest over Poplar Harca putting up parking fees by 658pc on East End housing estates
PUBLISHED: 12:12 23 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:59 23 March 2016
Hundreds of families are demonstrating tonight before Tower Hamlets council's meeting, to protest at social landlords whacking up car-parking charges by up to 638 per cent on public housing estates in east London.
The mass protest outside the Town Hall at 6.30pm is against Poplar Harca housing organisation, which looks after 5,000 homes on former council estates and now wants to put up fees from just under £2 to £7 a week for tenants—and £15 for leaseholders and freeholders.
Around 200 protesters picketed Poplar Harca’s board meeting at its HQ in Bow Common last night (pictured).
Protest organiser Doros Ullah, currently paying £2.35 week for his car space on Poplar’s Teviot Estate, will now have to fork out £15 as a freeholder.
“They’re creating a divisive two-tier system between freeholders and tenants,” he told the East London Advertiser. “To snap on 658pc increase without consultation is undemocratic and unfair. We are absolutely furious.”
A petition has been sent to Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs urging him to intervene.
The families fear they will have to give up their spaces which they believe would then be rented out to office executives from nearby Canary Wharf who can afford the new fees. Their visitor permits are also being scrapped, they have been told, so relatives and other callers “won’t be able to park in spaces we pay for”.
They already have the mayor’s backing, who has accused the housing organisation of “punishing” the families just for owning cars.
Mayor Biggs said: “The lack of transparency and consultation on parking fees is something we must challenge. They have other options that don’t involve punishing residents.”
The protesters were addressed last night by former Tower Hamlets councillor Motin Uz-Zaman, who called for government action to make social landlords more accountable on former council estates.
Holding ballots every few years to renew their franchise was one idea he put forward.
The council’s majority Labour group at tonight’s full meeting has tabled a resolution calling on the housing organisation to stop the parking charge hike and to consult with the families.
The increase “in percentage terms is high”, Poplar Harca admits, blaming the sudden rise to £7 and £15 on the government slashing rent subsidies.
The new charges, it says, affects “only a minority 20pc of residents” — a claim refuted by the campaigners.
The car-owners say they are being singled out as a “soft option” to fill the gap in housing subsidy funding.