Government confirms intent to transfer management of Parks to Mayor
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed its intention to transfer management of the Royal Parks to Mayor of London Boris Johnson - a move due to take effect following Parliament's state opening by the Queen on Tuesday.
The power handover would give final say on the controversial charging scheme to the Mayor - and a Mayor's office spokesman yesterday told the Richmond and Twickenham Times no parking fees would be introduced while Mr Johnson is in office.
He said: "At present the Mayor has no jurisdiction over Richmond Park (or Bushy), but his view is that the park is a fantastic historical resource and must be accessible for all Londoners.
"The Mayor would not introduce parking charges during this Mayoralty, and would only support such a measure thereafter if it had the backing of Londoners."
The Government also issued veiled confirmation that plans to charge drivers up to £1 an hour for parking would likely soon be ditched.
A DCMS spokesman said: "The Government is committed to transferring management of the Royal Parks, including Richmond and Bushy, to the Mayor's office, and the Mayor's position on the issue of charging is, of course, a matter of public record."
Ironically the latest development in a saga which began in January, 2009, comes just days after the Royal Parks applied to Richmond Council for planning permission to install pay and display machines in all of the borough open spaces' car parks.
MP for Putney Justine Greening said:
" "I am so pleased that our local concerns have been listened to by the Mayor and Richmond Park can continue to be a local park we can all use. Lots of residents were involved in the campaign and it showed how unpopular these charges were. To see the charges finally ditched is fantastic!"
Richard Tracey - London Assembly Member for Merton & Wandsworth commented:
" "Local residents will say Thank goodness for Boris - after all the mess and confusion that the previous government had made of this"
Richmond Park's new MP, Zac Goldsmith, said the application "won't make any difference" to the outcome while MP for Twickenham, Vince Cable, described it as "a rather futile act". Both MPs were adamant that parking charges would not be introduced.
The news will no doubt delight thousands of campaigners, who feared they had lost their battle when, in February, the House of Lords failed to scrap the charging plan approved by the previous Labour Government.
However, chairman of the Friends of Bushy and Home Parks, Pieter Morpurgo, called for action to continue until the parking charge proposals are officially ditched. He said:
"We should encourage as many people as possible to continue to object to the planning application until such time as we have an assurance in writing that the plans to charge for car parking in Bushy Park (and Richmond) will be permanently dropped."
May 24, 2010