Council U-turns on decision to not recognise paper visitor parking permits

On Monday, the council suddenly told residents it would cease accepting paper visitor parking permits from 31st December. Two days later it rowed back on that decision following backlash, reports Marco Marcelline

Credit: Victor Huang via Canva

Waltham Forest Council rowed back on a decision to stop accepting visitor parking permit tickets and pay-to-park vouchers at the end of the year following backlash from residents.

From 27th February, the council will no longer sell paper visitor’s parking permits and pay-to-park vouchers as it moves to an entirely virtual system via the RingGo app.

In a letter to residents on Monday (29th January), the council’s parking services team informed residents that the scratch cards would no longer be valid after 31st December.

In the letter, the parking services team said: “We are writing to inform you about a significant change in how we provide parking solutions. As of 27th February 2024, we will discontinue the sale and issuance of paper permits to residents and businesses. Instead, these products will be exclusively available in a virtual format, accessible through our user-friendly RingGo App.”

The letter continued: “Please note that any paper-based vouchers/permits purchased prior to 27th February 2024 will continue to be honoured in the Borough until 31st December 2024 after which time they will no longer be valid. Please note that no refunds will be offered on any permits or vouchers purchased.”

The move prompted heavy criticism from residents who had bought scratch card packs that they assumed they would use for years.

Following the backlash, on Wednesday (31st January), council deputy leader Clyde Loakes announced a U-turn on the decision to not accept scratch cards from 2025 onwards. Announcing that scratch cards would now be accepted indefinitely, Cllr Loakes said: “I know many of you are worried about the scratch cards that you have purchased and the stock that you may have built up.

“We had originally proposed that they would no longer be valid after 31st December 2024, following concerns raised about the short notice of that end date in just 11 months’ time, we have decided that all scratch cards held by residents will remain valid and can be used indefinitely. We will cease selling scratch cards on February 26th or until current stock runs out, likewise these will remain valid indefinitely.”

Cllr Loakes added: “This means there should be no concerns about using up any stock of permits currently held or purchased between now and February 26th”.

In a further statement to the Echo explaining the move Cllr Loakes said: “Waltham Forest is discontinuing its remaining paper permits and moving toward a 100% virtual permit system. This affects two products – scratch cards for visitors to use bays in controlled zones, and paper vouchers for Pay by Phone bays – which will now be purchased through the RingGo app, in the same way as every other parking product we offer.

“Moving all our products to the same system saves taxpayers’ money and staff time as we operate from one standard model. It also reduces the amount of paper waste that is created, helping protect our environment.”

A spokesperson added that the council anticipates savings of “approximately £214,000 in year one”. This money, the spokesperson said, “will be reinvested in concessionary transport such as Freedom Passes for the over 60’s and disabled residents”.

The Echo asked the council why there was no consultation on the process to move the visitor parking permits online. The council responded saying an “impact assessment” was carried out instead as a consultation is “not a requirement to change the method of providing two parking permit products”.

For help on the move to the virtual system, call 0203 092 0112, selecting option 3, or email [email protected]