Zacís Questions, Debates and EDMs
The Constant Economy
Where do I Stand?
††††Richmond park charges
††††Protect our green spaces
††††Support our Small Shops
††††Dog Fouling in Barnes
††††North Sheen Footbridge
††††Other Local Campaigns
††††Police and Crime Plan
Richmond park charges
UPDATE: 5 July 2010
Parking charges in the park have been scrapped!
Proposals to charge people for parking in Richmond and Bushy Parks have today been officially scrapped by Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose.
John Penrose said: “Plans to introduce car parking charges in these parks were the subject of fierce public opposition from the moment they were first proposed, some 18 months ago, and the local MPs have been lobbying me hard so, after discussing it with them and with the Mayor’s office, I’ve decided to scrap the idea immediately.
“Given the current economic climate, we will need to find alternative sources of income instead, but we will try to respect local residents’ views and preserve the environment of these wonderful and precious spaces too.””
The Royal Parks applied for planning permission to introduce parking meters last month, causing widespread concern. In response, Zac Goldsmith organised an urgent meeting with Mr Penrose and other local MPs, Vince Cable and Justine Greening, as well as representatives from the London Mayor’s office.
Commenting, Zac said; “I gave an absolute assurance before the election that we would scrap the charges, and I am thrilled that the Government has honoured that pledge. Put simply, enjoying Richmond and Bushy Parks will never become a budget decision. This is a triumph for Park users, and particularly for all those who signed petitions, wrote to the Minister and joined the mass rally in Richmond Park earlier this year.”
John Penrose is Minister for Tourism and Heritage, which includes responsibility in Government for London’s nine Royal Parks. The Royal Parks is an executive agency of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The Royal Parks are: Bushy Park, The Green Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, The Regent's Park and Primrose Hill, Richmond Park and St James's Park.
UPDATE: 30 May 2010
Parking charges will still be scrapped
Many residents have contacted me about the planning application recently made to Richmond Council for the installation of parking meters in Richmond Park.
I want to reassure you that despite this, the proposals to charge people for parking in the Parks will not be proceeding.
As you know, the Conservative Party promised to scrap the plans, and we will. The new Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has confirmed again to me that he will do whatever is necessary to prevent these proposals from happening.
Control of the Parks will be handed to the Mayor, Boris Johnson, who has also pledged to scrap these unpopular plans.
As many of you will know, this was a key pledge from me in my election campaign, and local people can rest assured that visiting the Park will never be a budget decision.
I am talking to the Culture team to work out exactly what steps need to be taken, and I have written to the Royal Parks to remind them that whatever money they spend on this project now will be wasted money.
Royal Parks: Charges will be delayed
27 March 2010
Royal Parks Agency Boss Mark Camley has written to Zac Goldsmith in response to a series of letters the Conservative PPC wrote to him following the recent Lords vote against parking charges in the Park.
Zac had written to Mr Camley saying: “Given that we are just a few weeks from the election, and that the Conservative Party has stated unequivocally that it will scrap the charges if it forms the next Government, I strongly urge you not to invest any further time or money in the scheme. Any action to the contrary will trigger an almighty backlash.”
In response, Mr Camley wrote: “The parking charges in Richmond and Bushy are not planned to come into effect until 1 October, to allow time to go through any necessary planning process.”
Commenting, Zac said; “This is obviously good news. It means nothing will have been done this side of the election, and if the Conservative Party wins the election, the charges will be scrapped without any money being wasted, and without the Parks being urbanised at all. Now we need to win so we can fulfill our pledge.”
More than 1,000 people attended a rally organised by Zac in Richmond Park to protest against the proposals. Most signed a giant banner, which Zac delivered to Number 10 Downing Street.
The Conservative amendment in the House of Lords calling on the Government to withdraw the proposed charges was supported by a huge margin – almost 2-1. The Lib Dems had put forward a different type of amendment – a ‘Fatal Amendment’. But there was never any possibility that the Lords would support a ‘fatal amendment’ to deal with such a local issue because they are so extreme. That’s why Fatal Amendments have only been used three times in history. The unelected Lords do not veto decisions of the elected Parliament. If they did, there would be outcry.
At the time, Zac said; “The Lib Dem amendment was a politically divisive gesture that was never meant to succeed. If you want to get things done in Parliament on behalf of your constituents, you have to make it possible, not impossible, for others to support you. If it hadn’t been for the Conservatives, the Government would have won outright.”
CONSERVATIVE MOTION AGAINST CAR CHARGES WINS BY HUGE MARGIN
Press Release, 11 March 2010
The Conservatives amendment in the Lords calling on the Government to withdraw the proposed charges in Richmond Park was been supported by a huge margin of 137-71. Astonishingly, Susan Kramer has described the result as ‘bitterly disappointing’.
Zac Goldsmith responded:
“It is a great result; the very best that was possible, and it will be difficult for the Government to ignore it. We all know that Kramer’s idea could never have worked. It was a gesture designed to fail so that her Party could score political points. If you want to achieve things in Parliament for your constituents, you need to make it as easy as possible for others to support you. The Lib Dems routinely do the opposite.”
Goldsmith has pointed out that even if the Lords had supported the Lib Dem ‘fatal amendment’, there is nothing to stop the Government simply presenting the same thing the next day.
Fatal Amendments are a ‘nuclear’ option that has only been used three times in history. The unelected chamber doesn’t veto decisions of the elected chamber. Moderate Peers were never going to consider using this method to deal with a local issue such as park charges.
Zac added; “if Kramer’s fatal amendment had been the only option last night, the Government would have won outright. The Conservative Party has shown again that it is committed to scrapping the charges. If we win the election that is exactly what we will do.”
Please email Margaret Hodge MP and express your opposition to these charges: email@example.com
PARKING CHARGES IN RICHMOND PARK
The Conservatives are resolutely opposed to the introduction of car parking charges in Richmond Park. Visiting Richmond Park should never become a budget decision.
So, how can we stop the Government’s proposals to do just that? First, I want to reiterate that Justine Greening and I have persuaded the Conservative Party to scrap the plans if we win the election. However, if the different political Parties put politics aside, we have an opportunity to stop the charges sooner.
Yesterday, Susan Kramer sent out an email claiming that the Conservatives “are refusing to back a vote in Parliament that would stop the car parking charges”. This is deliberate nonsense, but it has caused unnecessary alarm among some residents. I want to clarify our position.
Nationally, as I have said, we will scrap the charges if we form the next Government. In the meantime, we have tabled an amendment in the Lords that calls on the Government to withdraw its Order and resubmit the Royal Parks proposals without the plans to charge for parking.
This is an alternative to the Lib Dem ‘fatal amendment’. There have only been three ‘fatal amendments’ in history. It hardly ever happens because the unelected House of Lords does not reject outright legislation presented by a government. The peers will not agree to cause constitutional havoc for the sake of Richmond Park, and the Lib Dems are well aware of that. Besides, even if the Lords did vote down a Government Order, the Government could simply present the same thing the next day.
Susan Kramer’s idea is guaranteed to fail, and many people believe it is actually designed to do so, in order to allow the Lib Dems to score political points. In the run up to the election, some politicians will try anything to attract votes.
If Susan Kramer is genuinely determined to stop these plans, she must support our alternative. If she continues with her kindergarten politics, she will have allowed these charges in. It is as simple as that. The ball is in Susan’s court.
Countless people have been badly misinformed by our MP, and I strongly urge you to forward this post to as many people as possible to put their minds at rest, and to minimise the chance that political smears play a role in the forthcoming election.
I am happy to answer any questions at all regarding this or other issues.
March 2010 - Zac goes to Downing Street
Zac Goldsmith was joined by Justine Greening MP, the GLA’s Tony Arbour and Conservative PPCs Deborah Thomas and Helen Whately outside Downing Street on Thursday.
They were there to hand in a large banner that had been signed by hundreds of the protesters who gathered in Richmond Park last month to oppose plans to charge people for parking in the Park. The mass rally was organized by Zac Goldsmith, and attracted more than 1,000 protestors.
Both Zac Goldsmith and Justine Greening have persuaded the Conservative Party nationally to scrap the plans if they form the next Government.
Conservatives have also tabled an amendment to the Royal Parks proposals in the Lords that calls on the Government to withdraw its order and resubmit it without inclusion of the plans to charge for parking.
Justine Greening is pressing the Liberal Democrats to support the amendment instead of pursuing their own ‘Fatal Amendment’ which will force the Government to abandon all the Park’s proposals, some of which are acceptable. Both proposals will be debated next Wednesday.
Commenting, Zac Goldsmith said; “The Lib Dems need to support us. We shouldn’t interfere in the running of the Parks unless we have to, and we don’t want to scrap all of the Park’s plans. The Lib Dems can guarantee the end of the charges if they side with us. In the interests of Park users, I hope for once they will agree to put narrow politics to one side.”
In February, Shadow London Minister Justine Greening announced plans to transfer control of the Royal Parks to the Mayor of London. The plans will allow greater local accountability and come after a central Government scheme to introduce car parking charges at Richmond and Bushy Parks sparked widespread concerns across the capital
Zac on the Richmond park car parking charges
Zac countered the argument that the charges make financial sense.
He said; ‘It’s another example of the sort of narrow short-term thinking that led the Government to push for the 3rd runway at Heathrow. It will cost nearly £3m to urbanise this beautiful park, and it will generate about 400k per year. So it will take at least 7 years to pay back. There are so many ways to raise the money without undermining the very people who love and use the park.’
Margaret Hodge has given the go-ahead for parking charges to be imposed in Richmond Park, despite massive hostility from Richmond, Kingston and other surrounding Boroughs.
Earlier this year, I collected more than 2,000 signatures calling on the Royal Parks Agency to scrap plans to charge people for parking in Richmond Park.
organising a mass rally for local people to demonstrate their opposition to the
proposed introduction of car parking charges in Richmond Park. We will meet at
Pembroke Lodge at 10:30 on Saturday, January 30th.
The decision now rests with the new Minister for Royal
Parks, Margaret Hodge, and I have urged her to reject the proposal. This rally
allows us to send her a powerful message.
2000 signatures collected and handed in to the Royal Parks against the proposed car parking charges
Sent to: The Richmond and Twickenham Times
The Royal Parks Authority has circulated a consultation regarding its proposals to charge people for parking in Richmond Park. The deadline for responses is May 1st.
People everywhere are suspicious of consultations, largely because they are so often ignored. However in this case, it is vitally important that as many people as possible respond.
It matters because the Parks are not able to implement the parking charges without sign off by Government Ministers. In the absence of a significant backlash from residents and park lovers, it will be that much easier for these proposals to be pushed through.
Richmond Park costs a lot of money to maintain, and since the government withdrew funding for the Royal Parks, it has been struggling. But charging people for using the car parks is not the answer, and particularly during a recession.
I have spoken at length to the Parks authorities and am urging them instead to establish secure voluntary collection boxes near each of the Park gates and in the car parks. I believe this will generate revenue, without alienating the elderly and those who love Richmond Park.