To consider a petition received from the Metropolitan Tabernacle Church, Elephant and Castle in respect of parking issues.
The cabinet received a petition from Ms Chris Cooper, Member of the pastoral staff and Mrs Bunmi Ireland, Children’s Ministry co-ordinator.
Mr Cooper gave the cabinet a brief explanation of the history of Metropolitan Tabernacle Church and how the church services operated and broadcasted.
Mr Cooper advised that their largest ministry which is impacted most by parking regulations and access issues were the children’s ministries in the community of South London.
Mrs Ireland explained that all of they had 5 Sunday schools across South London of which four were in Southwark and one in Lambeth. All of their Sunday schools use mini buses which are stationed at the Tabernacle and used to full capacity for safe collection from and to homes – used by the children and teenagers who attended their Sunday schools and week night meetings.
They have 700 plus children who attend on a Sunday and 1,200 children registered. She stress that it was a major operation, entirely funded by the church. No charges were made to parents or to the young people who attend. The church sought to do this operation safely, responsibly and in an orderly manner. They also had 200 plus volunteers, many of whom came by public transport but some transported their families in their cars. The volunteers and their families stayed for the whole day and use their cars also to collect other children. Alongside the private cars they had a fleet of 20 mini buses – these buses were also used to collect elderly and disabled members of their congregation.
The parents relied on the mini bus operation for the safe transportation of their children.
Mr Cooper explained that there were four initiatives that affected them strongly; the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle for which they will lose quite a lot of parking; during the building of Number One, Elephant and Castle double yellow lines were installed, for safety of construction but Southwark didn’t enforce the double yellow lines on Sundays so that they could function freely – this agreement ran for five years, but was suddenly withdrawn on the 1 February without notice or consultation; the review of the C2 controlled parking zone, which has a long list of proposals, but again there had been no consultation or discussions with the church, the main concern with the proposal at paragraph W which was to turn all remaining single yellow lines to double yellow lines which would remove all the parking in the local streets; Proposal to place barrier across Dante Road, which is close to their building, to prevent a rat run which had developed through Brooke Drive after the redevelopment of the TfL road system around the Elephant and Castle. The barrier is a major problem to them and again they had not been consulted.
He informed the cabinet that they had a meeting with council officers last week which had resulted in positive progress, however he felt that they should be consulted before initiatives are taken by the council and taken more seriously.
The impact on parking facilities seriously threatened the continued work at the Tabernacle and their very well meaning volunteers.
Councillor Ian Wingfield, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Realm assured Mr Cooper and Mrs Ireland that the comments they had raised would be taken into account and apologised for the lack of consultation on the initiatives mentioned.
Councillor Wingfield agreed to look into the enforcement issue of the double yellow lines on Sundays. On the Dante Road proposal, if this was a experimental scheme for 12 months then they would be able to make their opinions known during that period and if revisions were required to scheme then these could be carried out. He also indicated that the council was looking at alternative sites to the west and to the south of the Tabernacle to see if their mini buses could be accommodated there.
Councillor Mark Williams, Cabinet Member for Regeneration explained that one of the key driving factors for the council is to improve air quality in the borough, particularly at the Elephant and Castle, so in planning policies at Elephant and Castle and across the borough, car parking at residential developments had been significantly reduced. He suggested that they discuss with Delancy, owners of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre to see if there are more bays that they could use.
He stressed that the council wanted to make Elephant and Castle a more pleasant environment to live, work and visit.