In an article we published in 2020, we updated you how the Vauxhall Park area of Luton (which sits near the Northern Boundary of Luton Airport) was going to become a Parking Permit Zone due to parking issues caused by airport passengers and staff blighting the lives of residents.
We backed a Proposal by the Liberal Democrats on Luton Borough Council (LBC) that either/both the airport operator, London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, or the owner London Luton Airport Ltd/Luton Rising, should pay for the scheme rather than the cash-strapped locals.
At the Full Council meeting on the 21/01/20 they discussed the Proposal, with the majority Labour group unsurprisingly defeating the motion. The Councillors in attendance (who were on the Board of Luton Rising) all voted against the Proposal, apart from the only non-Labour member on the Board, who obeyed the rules and abstained as that person had a conflict of interest.
We and the Liberal Democrat group both pointed out that all this would do would be to push the parking problem into the estates surrounding Vauxhall Park. Can you guess Dear Reader what has happened since passenger levels at the airport started to rise in 2022??? And yes, these estates now have the issues experienced in Vauxhall Park.
Local broadcast media has been covering the issue in the Ward of Wigmore in recent weeks, regarding holiday makers and staff clogging roads by parking cars to beat the high prices charged by the airport operator, and due to the lack of staff parking. When asked about the issue by the media, LBC said that in 2019 when the Vauxhall Park survey was done, the residents of Wigmore voted not to have a scheme introduced. Of course, at that time, there was not a problem in Wigmore, as everyone parked in Vauxhall Park, so why pay for a scheme you didn’t need?
Those residents are now asking for a Permit Scheme, and once again for either the Airport Owner or Operator to pay for it. If their request even gets as far as a vote by LBC again, the answer will of course be the same. We believe LBC are too scared of the Airport Operator to even ask, and that the Operator has no social conscience so will not even offer. We note that Luton Rising (LR) still appears to be surviving on loans from LBC, so in the highly unlikely event they do agree, those residents will still be paying for it at the end of the day. LBC will say again that it cannot start a precedent, as schemes in other areas of the town cannot be financed the same way.
If the airport is the “good neighbour” as LR describes itself , throughout its Development Consent Order application literature, why can’t it fund all the parking schemes in Luton, and support those surrounding villages affected also?
Of course, such a permit scheme will only be successful if it is enforced by LBC, and that is not guaranteed. In Vauxhall Park, cars are still parked outside the permitted bays. They are left for long weekends and for several weeks, so you would expect to see their windscreens adorned with the same number of parking tickets?
Sadly, this is not the case; patrols by wardens are sporadic and it would appear that they do not issue a ticket for each visit. This fact has no doubt been spread around social media platforms, as has been the nearest roads you can park in to use the airport, without getting any parking tickets. As I type this article, there is a car nearby that has been parked there for four days, outside a marked bay, without any tickets on show.
We are aware of course, that if a vehicle is shown to be road taxed/insured/MOT’d it is not illegal to park responsibly on the public highway. It is incredibly selfish and inconsiderate, and potentially a threat to life if the emergency services cannot gain access, but not illegal.
Whilst LR plans to turn the Wigmore Ward into the main access route for Terminal 2, is it also not selfish and inconsiderate of them not to be a “good neighbour”, and pick up the tab for a Parking Permit Scheme?