Diesel surcharge makes £600k in just three months
Parking fee aimed at tackling air pollution hits Islington drivers in the pocket
18 May, 2018 — By Samantha Booth
DIESEL drivers are feeling the sting of a new parking surcharge after the scheme collected more than £600,000 in its first three months, the Tribune can reveal.
Environment chief Councillor Claudia Webbe said the use of the £2-per-hour diesel surcharge on short stay parking would protect residents from the “danger” of toxic fumes by discouraging driving.
It is the first fee of its kind in the country – made through the RingGo app or phone service which automatically recognises a diesel vehicle through its registration plate.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that, between its launch in January and the end of March, the scheme had raised a whopping £623,348 – already half the £1.2million the Town Hall expected it would raise this year.
Cllr Webbe insisted the scheme was not for making money, but to encourage drivers to use greener modes of transport.
She said: “This is entirely about air pollution, it was nothing to do with income at all.”
The three streets which have brought in the most money are Banner Street and Bunhill Row, off Old Street, and Caledonian Road.
Ali Ozdonder, manager of Market Restaurant in Banner Street – where £57,880 was collected – said the surcharge was not good for business.
The 40-year-old said: “Before it was £2 an hour, now it’s £5 or £7. It’s more than breakfast. We have a lot of customers in the morning and they don’t want to park here.”
Mr Ozdonder said he had complained to the Town Hall and local MPs about it.
However, Ahmet Irshad, the manager of Snow White Dry Cleaning, on the same street, said the charge had had no adverse effects on his business.
Mr Irshad, 36, said: “My clients come from the city or most of them are local, they don’t drive here.” He added that he had not heard of any issues about the diesel surcharge.
Caledonian Road came in second place, collecting £55,760, with Bunhill Row raking in £37,720.
All income received is paid into the ring-fenced parking account and any surplus goes into the council’s general fund and spent on improvements including roads, footpaths, concessionary fares and funding transport for pupils with special needs.
The Freedom of Information request found that the total expenditure on these areas has consistently been greater than the surplus generated on the parking account.
Asked why Banner Street came top of the list, the Town Hall said there was “no special reason” it had made more money but that it is a busy area.
The Green Party’s Caroline Russell, the sole opposition councillor in Islington, said: “Using a visitor parking surcharge for diesel cars makes sense. It’s a nudge to people to consider whether their journey was really necessary.
“It’s a lot of money for just three months and I hope the council is planning to spend it on measures to enable people to walk and cycle and to help clean up our air.”
Cllr Webbe added that she expected the amount raised to slow down throughout the year as more drivers become aware of the scheme.
She said: “The main causes of death in Islington are cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and cancer – all of which are exacerbated by diesel emissions. It is not right that local residents should have to bear the burden of through-traffic pollution on their health.
“Islington is committed to improving air quality for residents, and reducing vehicle pollution that is harmful to health.”
Diesel surcharge hotspots
Banner Street (in Old Street): £57,880
Caledonian Road: £55,760
Bunhill Row (in Old Street): £37,720
Goswell Road: £36,040
York Way: £35,300
Charterhouse Street (Farringdon): £33,400
Upper Street: £32,800
Great Sutton Street (Clerkenwell): £26,600
Finsbury Square (Moorgate): £26,480
Clerkenwell Green (Clerkenwell): £26,260