Hammersmith and Fulham Council prohibited from making any decision based on its flawed Zone J Consultation.
A High Court Judge has issued an injunction, preventing the Council from making any decision based on the Consultation, pending the outcome of the application for judicial review.
Those supporting the legal challenge are now awaiting a decision on whether the case should proceed to a full-scale hearing in the High Court.
An application has been made to the High Court for a judicial review of the way the Council ran the consultation.
Following a refusal by the Council to even discuss the distorted presentation of Option 2 in the Consultation Document – let alone correct it – it was decided that there was no alternative but to seek legal advice. The advice given was that we should seek such a review.
It has been requested on behalf of the Zone J Parking Campaign and others on the Advisory Group set up by the Council to advise it on what should be offered in the Consultation.
The case being made is that although the Council agreed to offer the ‘resident-only/shared-bay’ scheme advocated by members of the Advisory Group, they failed to do so and instead offered instead a scheme (as illustrated in the consultation document plan) which couldn’t possibly work and which, quite rightly, frightened many residents. (See the full story under ‘Consultation’).
The decision to initiate legal action was not taken lightly. The Zone J Parking Campaign and members of the Advisory Group know that many Zone J residents – suffering from the displacement of parking caused by the Council’s 2016 scheme – want change as quickly as possible.
Nevertheless, they felt it wouldn't be right to allow the Council’s misconduct of the consultation to go unchallenged. (See full story under ‘New Legal Challenge’.)
As the Zone J/JJ Consultation enters its second week, the Zone J Parking Campaign has announced it is seeking legal advice about what it describes as “fatal flaws” in the Consultation which it says, invalidates the whole consultation.
Zone J resident David Mills, who in 2017 took successful legal action against the Council over the way it introduced the present parking scheme, says it is “incomprehensible that the Council should once again be trying to force extended hours on us, rather than holding a fair and impartial consultation on whether residents want them.
“If people vote for extended hours – after the two Options on offer have been fairly and accurately a described – that’s fine. It would be a democratic decision about which no one can complain.
“But if people are misled, by the Council, into voting for the Council’s own preferred option, then that is not fine at all.”
(See the Zone J Parking Campaigns’ explanation for seeking legal advice, under the Consultation link.)
The Zone J Parking Campaign has leafletted every resident in Zone J/JJ in support of Option 2. A group of residents from Zone JJ – who say Zone JJ has worked for them – have leafletted in favour of Option 1.
The new Zone J/JJ Consultation was launched, as expected, on Monday 3rd June and is intended to continue until Friday 5th July.
Residents and businesses in Zone J/JJ have been sent a Consultation Document and Questionnaire. It is also possible to vote on-line.
However members of the Zone J Parking Campaign have claimed the presentation of Option 2 – which would introduce ‘resident-only’ bays alongside ‘shared-bays’ is deeply flawed.
It is believed that the new consultation on parking controls the Council has promised will take place in June, probably running from the beginning of the month to the beginning of July.
It is also thought the Consultation will include an exhibition in the Bush Theatre setting out the two options the Council is expected to offer, which it agreed with the Advisory Group:
No one has yet seen the consultation document though, so this could be subject to change.
Members of the Advisory Group believe further progress was made toward resolving parking problems in Zone J/JJ at the Group’s fifth meeting with the Council, on 10th October.
Council officers raised some technical problems with the two options, it had already been agreed, should be included in the coming consultation, but chairman Cllr Wesley Harcourt, said he hoped these could be overcome. After taking a vote among members of the Advisory Group about the control hours they believed should be offered, he confirmed these would be:
Mahmood Siddiqi, Director of Transport & Highways, recommended that the number of ‘permit-only’ bays should constitute around 35 per cent of the total number of bays.
Some members of the Advisory Group questioned whether this would be sufficient.
Mahmood explained that this would provide one ‘permit-only’ bay for every two permit holders, which should be sufficient, given that many permit holders would continue to park in ‘shared-bays’.
More importantly, he added that while it was easy to increase the number of ‘permit-only’ bays, removing them was always much more difficult, because residents liked them so much, even if they were under-used.
He said that any new scheme would be closely monitored during the first few months and any under-provision’ easily corrected. He said this could be done, quite literally, “overnight”.
Council officers and members of the Advisory Group also discussed how a voice could be given to those who might not like either scheme. It was suggested that such respondents could be asked if they would support either, with different control hours or whether there was another form of parking provision altogether that they would prefer.
The Council is taking legal advice on whether those living south of Thornfield Road can be excluded from the coming consultation on the future of parking in Zone J and JJ.
This follows calls for their exclusion at the fourth meeting of the Advisory Group on 26th July.
A representative of the Hetley Road Residents Group argued that if those south of Thornfield Road were included, it was less likely that a majority of those consulted would vote for Option 1 (the extension of Zone JJ hours to Zone J). This was because those south of Thornfield Road did not suffer parking problems.
David Mills, the Loftus Road resident who led the judicial review challenge, which brought about the new consultation, said that if the rest of Zone J and Zone JJ voted for Option 1, with its excessive control hours, while, because of their exclusion, residents south of the Thornfield Road were left with much shorter control hours, they would suffer considerable displacement of parking onto their streets.
Hammersmith Parking Projects Manager Richard Hearle told the meeting he thought it would be both difficult and wrong to exclude those south of Thornfield Road.
Cllr Wesley Harcourt, who chaired the meeting, said he thought it would be unlawful to exclude them, but agreed that the Council would take legal advice on this.
He has since confirmed that they are doing so.
The Zone J Parking Campaign would oppose any exclusion of residents south of Thornfield Road from the Consultation. They believe it would be wrong to deny them a vote on something which would affects them directly.
It also points out that neither Option to be offered in the consultation would, if accepted, lead to any displacement of parking within Zone J/JJ, something they believe, which must be avoided.
The fourth meeting of the Advisory Group, on the 26th July, was not a success, but hopefully still made progress toward a resolution of the parking problems in Zone J and JJ.
For a series of extraordinary reasons, few of those who have attended previous Advisory Group meetings could make this meeting. Eight key groups were not represented. But two groups - who favour the present scheme - sent eight or nine people, most of whom had not attended any previous meetings and knew nothing of previous discussions nor the important agreements reached at the last meeting in March.
This made the meeting a bit chaotic. Particularly when some pressed for residents living south of Thornfield Road to be excluded from the coming consultation. Cllr Wesley Harcourt, who chaired the meeting, said he thought this would be unlawful but agreed that the Council should take legal advice about whether they could be excluded.
The meeting then moved on to its main purpose, which was to discuss the Council’s first attempt to find a way of presenting to those taking part in the consultation, the two options agreed at the March meeting of the Advisory Group. These were: 1. the extension of Zone JJ hours to Zone J and 2. the introduction of 24-hour, seven day a week permit-only bays alongside the ‘shared-bays’ we already have.
Many on the advisory group were critical of the draft consultation document which had been drawn up. They felt the presentation was both confusing and inaccurate, failing to properly reflect what had been agreed in March. Some also felt that the draft document was biased in favour of Option 1.
Fortunately, knowing they could not attend the meeting, some on the advisory group submitted a critique of the draft consultation document.
Based on the criticisms expressed in this, they also submitted a draft revision of the consultation document.
Given the absence of so many on the Advisory Group though, discussion on the draft consultation document was limited and inconsequential and Cllr Harcourt, brought the meeting to a close.
In doing so he indicated significant agreement with the criticisms that have been made of the draft consultation document. He said that the Council needed to go away, study these and revise the draft consultation document. He agreed it was confusing and that it needed to be simplified to present two simple options everybody could understand. He added that he also thought it might be a bit unfair. He said it would need ‘heavy’ re-writing. He announced that a further meeting of the Advisory Group would be called in September to discuss a new, revised consultation document.
The Council has confirmed that those in Zone J and Zone JJ will be offered two options in a new parking consultation this Autumn. Both options envisage the re-merging of Zone J and Zone JJ under one set of rules. The first option will be the extension of the current Zone JJ hours (9.0 am to 9.0 pm, seven days a week) to Zone J. The second will be a mix of permit only bays – possibly protected 24 hours, seven days a week hours - and shared bays, which would have much shorter hours. The Zone J Parking Campaign has argued these should have the same control hours as the current Zone J scheme, that is 9.0 am to 5.0 pm, five days a week.
“This is great news”, says Robbin Pierce of the Zone J Parking Campaign. “It means we have a chance of getting the best of both the Zone JJ and Zone J schemes, with none of their disadvantages.”
The details of the consultation will be discussed at a fourth meeting of the Advisory Group on 26th July.
The third meeting of the Advisory Group took place on Monday 26th March and was much more encouraging than the previous two meetings.
As before, around 20 people from Zone J/JJ, representing residents, places of worship and businesses attended.
The Council began by presenting three options they were prepared to offer in the coming consultation which, because of the coming local elections, can now not be held until the Autumn.
Encouragingly, the Council seemed much more willing to listen to members of the Advisory Group and in the light of their comments, quickly agreed to amend the proposals.
Option 1 was simplified and became, instead, a simple extension of the current control hours in Zone JJ (9.0 am to 9.0 pm seven days a week) to Zone J, as some on the Advisory Group had requested.
Option 2 was dropped altogether, after it was pointed out that nobody had requested such a scheme, and few would want it, given that it would reduce the number of parking bays available to residents.
Option 3 – which thus becomes Option 2 – was further improved.
It was agreed that the priority should be to ensure enough ‘permit-only’ bays were provided to allow all residents to park relatively easily. Cllr Wesley Harcourt, who was chairing the meeting, suggested the ‘permit-only’ should be protected, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. He also agreed that residents’ visitors, displaying smart cards (or using whatever system replaces it), would be able to park in the ‘permit-only’ bays.
There was no discussion of the hours the adjacent shared bays should have – which would be the only hours residents’ visitors and others would have to pay to park in the newly reunified Zone J – but those on he Advisory Group calling for this new Option 2, repeatedly referred to them as having the existing Zone J hours, that is, 9.0 am to 5.0 pm, five days a week. This would mean the ‘shared-bays’ throughout Zone J would return to providing free evening and weekend parking, helping residents, local businesses and places of worship.
At the same time, residents with cars would have much more effective protection than at present. No one else – other than their visitors – would be able to park in the bays reserved for them. This means they would enjoy easy parking, even on match days.
As Umar Khawaja, a local resident and leader of the Zone J Business Group, told the meeting: “this gives us the best of both worlds. It provides even more effective helps for those who have benefitted from the new extended hours in Zone JJ, while removing all the harm and distress this has caused others. It is the obvious solution.”
The second meeting of the Advisory – or Focus Group as the Council is calling it – took place on Tuesday 12th December.
Around 20 people from Zone J/JJ, representing residents, places of worship and businesses attended.
It was not an encouraging meeting.
The Council began by presenting three options it said it would be prepared to offer in the coming consultation.
None dealt with the fundamental issue that the Council imposed the current control hours – just about the longest in central London – even though in the last consultation, a clear majority (58.6%) voted against them.
Instead, two of the three options would actually have extended these hours to Zone J as well (in one option, with additional exclusive pay to park bays and in the other, without). The third of the Council’s option would have maintain the split between Zone J and Zone JJ - which has caused damaging displacement of parking and made parking in Zone J much more difficult.
All three options presented by the Council would result in more revenue being generated from parking in our area.
Local resident David Mills – who successfully challenged the legality of the Council’s current scheme – made it clear the proposals were unacceptable.
The option many residents support – permit only bays with Zone JJ hours and shared bays with Zone J hours - was included as ‘Option 4’ but Cllr Wesley Harcourt, who chaired the meeting, said it was not an option the Council intended offering.
David Mills made it clear that any refusal to offer ‘Option 4’ would also be unacceptable.
“While providing effective protection for residents with parking problems”, he said, “it would do so without harming everybody else. It must be included in the coming consultation.”
Robbin Pierce, chair of the Zone J Parking Campaign said it would be undemocratic if the option was not included.
A vote was taken which showed 11 of those at the meeting felt Option 4 should be included in the coming consultation, with only five opposing this.
Since the meeting, In a subsequent email, Wesley Harcourt, the councillor responsible for parking, has raised the possibility of the ‘fourth option’ being included after all.
So some progress was made, but there is still a long way to go.
Click here for a detailed description of ‘Option 4’. The Zone J Parking Campaign believes it would effectively remove the parking problems some residents have suffered, while minimising harm to everyone else. But let us know what you think.
The first meeting of the new Advisory Group – which the Council is calling a 'focus group' – took place on Thursday, 19th October.
Around 30 people from Zone J/JJ had been invited, representing residents, places of worship and businesses.
It was very much an exploratory meeting, from which little emerged, as might be expected from a first meeting.
While two or three residents expressed support for the scheme introduced last December, most of those invited stressed the harm it had caused.
There seemed some agreement, however, that going back to the pre-December 2016 situation, was not a true option. David Mills, who initiated the legal action which forced the Council to hold a new consultation, said parking stress figures for June 2016, which the Council had just released, made it clear that there could be no going back.
"There is a problem", he said, "which has to be dealt with. It is just that there are far better ways of doing so, than the scheme we have at the moment."
The Council has announced it is setting up a working group – made up of representatives from
residents, businesses and places of worship – to help draw up the options it will offer in the new
Zone J consultation.
The Council says: ‘we’ll use all the feedback we get from this working group, to guide a wider public
consultation we’ll hold later this year’.
“It’s a very good opportunity”, says the Campaign’s Chair, Robbin Pierce, “to show that local people
can work together and come up with effective and sensible proposals for helping those who have
parking problems, without causing all the enormous harm that the present scheme, introduced has
The working group is expected to consist of around 15-20 representatives from Zone J and Zone JJ.
The first meeting will be at the Town Hall in early October.
In a major climb down, Hammersmith and Fulham has now settled our legal challenge to its new parking scheme. It has agreed to pay our costs and to re-consult with residents.
This is only the first battle though. The new consultation may still not offer what we want and the confusion this would cause might be used by the Council to justify keeping the present scheme or one like it.
We are hopeful that this will not be the case. The Council has agreed to a residents group to advise it on the consultation and although we do not yet know what this means, if it is to help the Council decide on the options to be offered, it will be a big step forward.
We will keep you updated.
Now they have won a new consultation, the Zone J Parking Campaign is increasing pressure on the Council to offer an option in the consultation, which elsewhere, appears to work well in areas like ours.
The business community in Zone J has come together, in a remarkable way, to try to improve
parking provision for both residents and local businesses.
The new Zone J Business Group has now completed a canvas of local businesses. Around 50 have
signed up as members of the Group. In doing so all have expressed, in writing, their formal
support for the provision of ‘resident only’ bays to protect residents with cars, alongside ‘shared
bays’ with much shorter hours, to help everyone else.
The Group’s coordinator, Umar Khawaja (a Zone JJ resident himself) says this is the obvious way
“Such a scheme”, he says, “would protect those residents who have benefitted from the present
scheme, while at the same time removing the harm it has caused. Everybody would benefit.”
The Business Group is also discussing whether it should also ask for some short stay, inexpensive
‘pay-to- park-bays’ on or near to the Uxbridge Road.
“This could take away some of the parking in resident streets”, says Umar, “while helping businesses
too. It is certainly something worth discussing.
“I am convinced”, he adds, “that if residents and local business work together, we can come up with
something that will be better for everybody, than what we have at the moment”.
On 5.4.17 the Zone J Parking Campaign won an important first step in its efforts to get better parking.
A Judge in the High Court approved our application for a Judicial Review of Hammersmith and Fulham Council's decision to impose its controversial new parking scheme.
"This is marvellous news", said David Mills, who initiated the legal challenge. "We believe the Council's decision – which is causing so much distress in our community – was clearly unlawful."
In approving the application for a Judicial Review, Judge Andrew Grubb said all the arguments used by the Campaign's legal team, in seeking the review, were valid.
His decision supported the view of our own legal advisors, that we had a strong legal case.
The full text of the Judge's decision can be found under the 'our Legal Challenge' section of the website.