The council is leaving our older residents behind

Terry Day, befriending officer at AgeUK, says the council must rethink moving parking permits online

The council moved visitor parking permits online on 27th February, Credit: Lord Baileys/Canva

The council says withdrawing the paper over-60s visitor parking permits, replacing them with an online system, will not disadvantage anyone. Well, Age UK Waltham Forest and nine other local charities disagree. 

Under the new system (which started on 27th February) free visitor parking permits for over-60s are online only. This means older people have to set up an online account and then book a permit online or over the phone each time someone visits them by car.

45% of Londoners aged 75+ do not use the internet at all, many others hardly at all. Many older people also struggle to use the phone because of dementia, memory problems, hearing or visual impairments, tremor, swollen fingers, the list goes on.

The council has, under pressure, put in place some things to make it easier for some people who are not online to book a parking permit some of the time.

The council’s parking permit phone line will operate Monday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm, but only 18 of the 81 Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) exclusively operate within those hours. Many operate until 6.30pm or later on weekdays; many operate on Saturdays; twelve operate seven days a week. What use is this limited phone line to people living in the other 78% of the CPZs?

They say people will be able to book their parking permits up to 28 days in advance. But do older people not get to have spontaneous, or emergency visitors?

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They say that an older person can nominate one or more trusted people, who can book parking permits online for them. But a lot of older people have friends who are also not online, who rely on driving.

They say there is an automated service, whereby the older person can phone a number and book the parking permit by pressing the keys on the phone. Such systems are extremely complicated and off-putting to lots of younger people, let alone many older people! How is someone who is hard of hearing supposed to use that system?

How can the council say that no-one will be disadvantaged by this new system? Loneliness and isolation are a huge problem for many older people, and are proven to be bad for people’s health. This change will only exacerbate that. Yes, the council has to make cuts to services, but those cuts should protect, not target some of the most vulnerable people in the borough.                                            

We think the borough’s older people deserve better treatment from a council which  prides itself on taking equality seriously, and is committed to combating health inequalities. Older people will be disadvantaged by this system and we call on the council to reconsider its decision and retain paper permits for over 60s. At the very least, the council should delay implementation until it has got adequate mitigation measures in place and has communicated clearly to everyone how to use the new system.  

Anyone interested in volunteering with AgeUK Waltham Forest can ring 0208 558 8716 or email [email protected]

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