A PENSIONER has called on the community to throw its weight behind a campaign for better visitor parking rates in Hammersmith and Fulham.
Margaret Spector, of Weavers Terrace, Fulham, says she looks enviously at London boroughs like Islington, Ealing and Wandsworth which offer up to three hours of free parking to visitors and discounted rates as low as 50p an hour.
But in Hammersmith and Fulham, visitors can only find the price of an hour’s parking reduced from £2.40 to £1.80, as part of a discounted smart visitor permit, in half of the borough’s controlled parking zones.
And the 73-year-old suffered the consequences of this pricing policy over Christmas when a foot operation left her unable to get out for a month and isolated.
With family in the US and friends living outside the borough, Mrs Spector realised that people were priced out of coming to visit her at her Fulham home, in zone F.
Parking in that zone is free on a bank holiday, Sunday and after 8pm from Monday to Saturday.
“I think it is disgraceful and shows no compassion for the older generation,” she said. “Loneliness must be one of the worst ailments to endure in later life.
“I was unable to get out and had no-one to come and look after me. My friends are elderly too and they are not able to get on public transport for mobility reasons but rely on their cars.
“Why would they want to come and visit me after 8pm in the week? It is ludicrous and shows how detached the council is from the plight of elderly people.”
Ms Spector says many people who might visit her cannot afford to pay £2.40 an hour, and it left her isolated as she recovered.
“I had to spend hour-upon-hour on my own and it was a real eye-opener for me,” she said.
“I want to get a reasonable visitors parking scheme for the elderly and sick people in this borough. The Tories flagged it up as an aim when they were looking to get elected, but it has disappeared into the ether.
“All they seem to care about it is the money they can make from parking.”
Hammersmith and Fulham Council says that it will introduce their smart visitor permit scheme to zone V – the biggest in the borough – next month and that it hopes to roll it out borough-wide in the ‘next few years’.
Councillor Nick Botterill, deputy council leader, said: “We have to weigh up the parking needs of residents against those of visitors and businesses and this is always a difficult balancing act.
“Our prices are among the lowest in inner London and significantly lower than boroughs like Camden and Lambeth, which charge up to £4.90 per hour.
“As well as offering a discount of up to £1 an hour for residents’ visitors, we also offer a further 50 per cent discount to the visitors of disabled residents for the first 240 hours of the year.
“We are currently reviewing an option to extend cashless parking in the borough, and will be phasing in a residents’ visitors discounted scheme across the borough over the next few years.”
n Do you support Mrs Spector’s calls for a cheaper visitor parking? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07795 800083 with your views.