Saturday, 25 August 2018

Local residents penalised on Wembley Event days

As locals know it is pretty hard getting around the borough on Wembley Event Days with over-crowded public transport, traffic jams, curtailed bus routes and parking restrictions. Many give up moving around the area to go about their normal business, shopping, visting relatives or attending local events.

Now it appears to have got harder with Brent Council refusing Barham Community Library, staffed by volunteers,  Event Day parking permits for library events and community lettings that happen to take place on event days.

Paul Lorber asked for what he thought would be routine parking permits for the library and received this reponse from Brent Council:

After consulting our 2015 parking strategy document which is available online at https://www.brent.gov.uk/media/16403337/parking-strategy-2015.pdf, I can confirm that we are unable to issue the dispensations that you have requested. I have attached a copy of this strategy for your convenience. 
I draw your attention to article 3.120, titled “Places of worship and community centres”. therein it states;
“Many places of worship are situated in residential areas. People often use their cars to travel to worship or to attend related community activities, and this can sometimes cause   congestion and/or conflict with the parking needs of local residents and businesses. With the exception of event-day place of worship permits in Wembley (only premises that are not in a CPZ are eligible), no special on-street parking provision is made for places of worship and community centres.”
I believe that this article precludes the library from any issuance of dispensations, or any other special on-street parking provision.  
I have reviewed the public transport options available around the library, I note.
·      Sudbury Town Station is 0.2 miles away (five minute walk) serving the Piccadilly line.
·      Sudbury and Harrow Road Station is 0.3 miles away (6 minute walk) serving the Chiltern Line on the National Rail.
·      Wembley Central Station is 0.7 miles away (14 minute walk) serving the London Overground (Watford DC line), the Bakerloo line and the National Rail serving the London and North-Western Railway and Southern lines.
·      A bus stop serving the 18, 92, 182, 204 & H17 routes is 300ft north-west of the library entrance.

I would encourage visitors to make use of the readily available public transport, as well as walking and cycling, our published strategy seeks to reduce trips by cars throughout the Borough.
I understand that this may not have been the response you were expecting. However, we have a published strategy to seek to achieve a balance between the needs of residents to park, access to local employment and local retail and service providers in addition to the reduction of car trips. 

John Wild
Contract Operations Manager
Lorber challenged Wild in his response:

Dear Mr Wild

Thank you for your email.

Firstly I consider it inappropriate for anyone from Brent Council to recommend cycling to anyone until such time as the local roads are repaired. As things state many roads are in such a poor state of repair that they are death traps for cyclists.

Barham Community Library has now been open for almost 2 years and up to now all our requests for permits for events at our Library have been met irrespective of the out of touch policy/document you refer to.

What has suddenly changed?

I am concerned because our Library is attended by many older and disabled people who are often brought by others. Without receiving a lift from a relative or friend who then needs to park locally that person would not be able to come.

This policy is therefore depriving elderly and disabled people for accessing our Library on Event days and preventing us to organise events for our local community for many weekends during the year. How does this approach help to meet the other Council objective to tackle loneliness?

If the intention is for Brent Council and its officers to deprive community facilities the ability to function or for disabled or elderly people to be disadvantaged then I suggest that you clearly state this intent and publicise it - rather than simply hide behind a document which no one is aware of.

Whenever the issue of the Wembley Event Zone was discussed officers and leading councillors reassured residents and organisations that they could always apply for Event Day permits. I cannot recall anyone stating that they were restricted to funerals and weddings only and recall summer BBQs, birthday parties being mentioned too.

The fact that up to now our requests for permits were always granted proves that the above approach was followed up to now. Hence my question - what has changed and who issued instructions to change the approach.

I am copying these exchanges to the Chief Executive so that she can sort out this mess and stop local people and local organisations being disadvantaged in this appalling way just to accommodate Wembley Stadium and their growing number of events.

Regards
Paul Lorber

Lorber told Wembley Matters:
We have been asking for permits regularly and until recently received them for days when the Library was open, or for the Tamil School or even for lets to other groups or individuals for a social/party. One group who regularly uses us for small social gatherings are the  Caribbean Muslim Group made up mostly of older people. They usually finish around 10:30pm and feel safer to go by car with their family. Without the ability to park for their elders or disabled people they will simply give up.

A return bus ride costs £3 - and most people are unlikely to want to spend so much to simply come to a library.

We are not talking of a vast numbers of people and lack of parking spaces or congestion is not an issue for us as Barham Park is some way from the Stadium.

Tge trouble is that the rules are being imposed and enforced by people who do not live here and do not appreciate  the damage their draconian restrictions cause for local people and voluntary groups.
Surely it is wrong that the local council that is supposed to represent the interests of its residents has decided to restrict their lives on event days?

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