Category Archives: Parking

Electric cars – where can we charge them (and other problems)?

I’m afraid I have shamelessly lifted this article from a recent Spectator website. It attracted a very high number of interesting comments, which I cannot begin to reproduce.

But the many problems of electric vehicles – including not just the initial cost but also their weight, the environmental impact of the raw materials, their high demands on the electricity network and of course, as mentioned below, the obvious problem of where they can be charged especially in a crowded city – are beginning to dawn on people. True, some houses on Fawnbrake Avenue have been able to convert their front gardens to a parking space, thereby solving one of the problems. But a majority of residents don’t have that option. And lamp-post charging sets off a whole number of other complications.

 

“With their private jets and gas-guzzling mansions, delegates at Cop26 have been widely criticised for an elitist attitude towards the environment. Nothing better demonstrates the gulf between policymakers and ordinary people than over the charging points for electric cars. It is one thing to install a home charging point for your car if you own a large house up a crunchy gravel driveway – indeed, according to the property website Rightmove, owners of such properties have been fitting charging points with great enthusiasm, with a 541 per cent increase in the number of homes being advertised with such a facility over the past year.

But what do you do if you live in one of the 43 per cent of homes which do not have off-street parking? In fact, you don’t necessarily have to be of modest means to live in such a house – there are plenty of city centre homes, in Belgravia and such places to boot, which open straight onto the pavement. Owning a car in a city has not been easy ever since controlled parking and traffic wardens started to appear in the 1960s, but it is just about to get a whole lot more difficult. Even if you can find somewhere to charge an electric car the electricity is likely to be several times more expensive than plugging it in to your home supply.

That said, there have been some trials with on-street recharging points, which may be coming to a street near you soon. Under the Go Ultra Low City Scheme, 1000 on-street charging points were installed in London in 2019 – utilising existing lamp-posts. You are not going to get a rapid charging point from the electricity supply to a lamp-post – they are limited to 3.7 kW – but it is enough for an overnight charge. Reading, too, has been experimenting with fixing sockets to existing lamp-posts.

But there are still many problems to overcome. In Reading, many street lamps proved to be unsuitable because there are installed on the nearside of the pavement, which would have required a cable to be dangled dangerously across the footway. Pedestrians face enough obstructions without having to step over an electric cable every few yards. That problem could be overcome by excavating small channels beneath the pavement so that a cable can be run across without tripping people up. One company, Greenmole, in association with Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Salford has been installing just that: channels which lead from a motorist’s own home to the roadside, to enable charging. It comes at a price – such an installation will cost you around £3000. But there is a bigger problem, too: very few people have a reserved parking place directly outside their home – even where parking permit schemes exist they tend to allow parking on a street-by-street or area-by-area basis, not to individually-designated parking spaces.

As more electric cars come into use, there are going to be intense battles over this. Should homeowners be allowed to claim parking spaces directly outside their homes so they can charge their vehicles more easily – and if so, what should they be charged for the privilege? After all, the public highway is supposed to be a facility for all, not for bits effectively to be privatised for the exclusive benefit of nearby property-owners. In any case, reserving parking spaces outside homes is not going to help everyone. If you have a house, say, divided into three flats, who, if anyone, gets to bag the single streetside parking space?

One thing is for sure, until the problem of charging electric vehicles on the streets is solved, properties with off-street parking are likely to command an even greater premium than they already do. The Battle of Cable Steet is long remembered as the struggle between communists and fascists in the 1930s. The Battle of Street Cabling has yet to come.”

Parking in Dulwich Park – again

Over on Twitter, one or two people commented on our recent story about Southwark’s proposed parking charges in Dulwich Park. They said rather smugly that no-one should take their cars there anyway, and that walking is more environmentally correct.  Conventional fair comment, but not everyone is fit enough to walk two or three miles to visit a park or a gallery.  Oh, I suppose they can always summon a Uber …

A nicer and more balanced opinion has appeared from one of our neighbours here in Fawnbrake.  To save scrolling down, I’ll reproduce it here too:

“Another reason to visit the park regularly is to attend the many Dulwich & District U3A groups that meet in Rosebery Lodge. Many Herne Hill residents are signed up for these. Personally, though by nature lazy, I get out the bike and cycle to my group, so am feeling rather smug about the planned charges. But this is not an option for everyone and the absence of a good bus service makes it more difficult. But I do commend cycling. And from where I am in Fawnbrake you can always avoid the climb up Kestrel (and Ruskin Walk on the return) by taking the slightly longer way round along Milkwood Road. And from Half Moon lane turn into quiet Winterbrook Road, where soon the Japanese cherries will be flowering – a real delight.”

Rosebery Lodge, Dulwich Park

Parking during the pavement works- a (welcome) new complication

Our neighbour Louise at No 75 emailed a few close neighbours this morning, but (with her permission) I am posting this up here thinking that it may be of interest to others, particularly at the Kestrel/Gubyon end of Fawnbrake.

Louise writes:

“I wanted to let you know that Lambeth have finally agreed to introduce a new drain gully outside of 75 to alleviate the problem we have of all the detritus from both sides of the street settling outside of number 75.  I’ve had confirmation from Lambeth yesterday that this work will be done by the pavement guys when they reach our section of the street.  

I just wanted you to be aware as the pavement guys are now moving towards our section, and it’s going to put a lot more pressure on parking.

I had a note from Lambeth on Wednesday waiving the PCN fine – I know that others have received the same, but I don’t think we’ll get that concession again.”

Parking penalties during the pavement resurfacing

Our neighbour David Williams recently went into battle about the numerous unfair parking fines that landed on neighbours bewildered by the unclear parking suspension notices scattered around the street to facilitate the current (and very welcome/overdue) pavement works. He finally received some good news via Cllr Jim Dickson and reports as follows:

 

Dear neighbours, apologies for the tedious flow of emails about parking; hopefully this will be the last!

Councillor Jim Dickson – with whom I’ve been in touch over the daft issuing of fines, on behalf of Fawnbrake residents – has received some good news, despite our initial challenges to Lambeth being turned down.

It’s self-explanatory, and he’s asked me to spread the word, so here it is:

Dear Cllr Dickson,
Further to my ME response yesterday I have continued to look into the suspensions and resulting PCNs on Fawnbrake Avenue, as I am aware a number of customers have been affected.
I can now confirm that any PCN cases which are still open will be cancelled.
This is because we accept that the multiple suspensions on the street may have caused confusion, coupled with the fact that the nature of the street furniture on Fawnbrake Avenue (to which we affixed the suspensions) means the information may have been inconsistently displayed.
We are currently investigating the feasibility of mobile posts to affix signs to, so that in the future information is more clearly displayed.
Kind regards,
James
James Edlin
Performance and Development Officer
Environment
7th Floor, Blue Star House

Well done, David! But I guess we should continue to be vigilant, and prudent where we park. Lambeth may now improve the accuracy of their parking suspension notices as the work proceeds along the road.