CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Taxing times in the borough

08 April, 2021

‘Camden Council is passing around the begging bowl, also known as sending out council tax demands’

• IT is that time of year again when Camden Council passes around the begging bowl, also known as sending out council tax demands.

As usual they are demanding the highest percentage increase allowed. Is it not time that as a responsible public body they considered ways of saving money?

There are, from experience, plenty of opportunities to do this.

• Contract management: – the low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) and other Covid-19 emergency road “improvements” that have been undertaken with no or very little consultation. There have been many items in the CNJ regarding Prince of Wales Road.

In parking zone CA-U (mostly NW5/N6) there have been examples of no, or very poor, contract management. Merton and Millfield lanes, these works went on for at least 12 months.

The replacement of the kerb-stones on the Hampstead Heath side of Millfield Lane was a very poor choice, sharp square edges, which led to wheel and tyre damage as vehicles had to pull on to the path to allow others to pass, when originally operating as two-way traffic.

• Chetwynd Road: – parking suspension signs were erected for a period from June 2020 until December 2020; the follow-up contractors did not turn up until at least a week after the signs were up.

Again contractors came and went as they pleased and the actual “improvement” taking out markings for around three parking bays, and painting double yellow lines, took months, the signage and barriers being removed in late August 2020.

Recently, after a spate of penalty charge notices (PCNs) being issued to vehicles parked over the pavement white lines, the parking bay lines have been repainted.

This includes a disabled persons’ parking bay; this bay is hardly ever used and this was reported to the relevant team at Camden several years ago.

• York Rise: – contractors arrived on Monday, parking suspension signs had been put up for February 22-23. The contractors were on site for two or three days, the work took around four hours.

They have been so well paid for this piece of work that they have left behind six or seven large traffic signs, probably worth hundreds of pounds, now just causing an obstacle.

Camden used to have an excellent highways engineer, renowned for ensuring contractors carried out the work to the highest standards, and who would chase up contractors where there were any issues. He ensured that Camden were getting value for money.

• Councillors’ pay and expenses: – again another issue that has resulted in correspondence to the CNJ, whatever happened to those who stood to be councillors and did so because they wanted to represent residents and fight their corner? Financial consideration, other than reasonable expenses never came into it.

One councillor was recently quoted as saying “we should get annual rises in line with council staff”. Proves how out of touch he or she was.

Camden employees previously had not had an annual rise for periods of up to 10 years. And often were only offered lower than inflation rises.

• Illegal or suspect parking: – in a small area of parking zone CA-U there are numerous examples of possibly illegal parking. Misuse of disabled persons’ blue parking badges, suspect parking by local businesses, suspect parking by contractors.

If there was proper enforcement and investigation of these issues here is a very obvious opportunity to raise further income from business parking permits. And residents that have paid for parking would find more spaces.

Just some thoughts, although I suspect that there will not be much if any action on them. After all I have sent emails raising these issues, and others, to various council departments over the last 12 months.

To date I have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

AJG, NW5

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