- EXCLUSIVE: Van drivers in Islington say its cheaper to pay fines than pay parking
- Parking a diesel van inside the borough can cost up to £13 an hour
Sitting in the shadow of the Emirates Stadium, just yards from the statue of Thierry Henry knee-sliding his way to eternal victory over arch rivals Tottenham, are the new heroes of north London.
Despite paying thousands of pounds for new vans to comply with London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s hated ULEZ zone, Islington’s politicians have shot up the price of parking – even for plumbers, electricians and other trades – who provide vital services for people within the borough.
Now white van drivers have discovered how to beat their own nemesis, the London Borough of Islington whose anti-motorist policies are driving tradesmen and women off the road.
On top of hourly parking charges that range from £2.50 to £6.30, Islington demands diesel drivers to pay a further £6.50 an hour levy.
Such is the extent of the cash grab, some firms have told their drivers to take a fine if working at a location for several hours as it is cheaper than paying for parking. Others say they have to turn down work because the new ‘environmental’ charge makes certain smaller jobs unprofitable.
Depending on the location, a parking ticket costs between £80 and £135. To reduce the number of people contesting the tickets, councils offer a 50 per cent reduction if the bill is settled within 14 days.
Plumber Tony Lockhart said: ‘It’s killing people and businesses. Here’s the situation. Tickets are cheaper than paying per hour, it’s as simple as that.
‘But it just can’t go on. This is a war on motorists – but it goes further than that. It’s class warfare. They simply don’t want working class people like me in London.’
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The 45-year-old, who works in Islington, added that the surcharge is having such a ‘disastrous’ effect that his business is having to turn down jobs because they aren’t profitable.
‘We have to turn jobs down all the time if we can’t park there,’ he said. ‘There’s just nothing we can do.’
Tradesman Michael Ovppong, 43, admitted that his boss sometimes ‘authorises’ a parking fine for him while he’s out working.
‘Sometimes my boss tells me to just take the parking fine because it’s cheaper than paying for parking with the diesel surcharge.
‘The other issue is that these places where you have to pay for parking – you’re only allowed to be there for two hours. If you’re on a job for eight hours, it’s not possible to keep moving your car. You just can’t work like that.’
‘These extra taxes on motorists, it’s making it impossible for people like me to do my job.’
Meanwhile, Rob Considine, 26, who works at Premier Plumbing Merchants – based just in front of Arsenal Football Stadium – admitted: ‘My colleagues and I have had to resort to avoiding parking our vans if possible, just to keep things afloat.
His boss added: ‘The diesel surcharge is killing the business. I don’t understand what van drivers are expected to do. What is going to happen to us?’
Myrvin Kirwin, who drives vans for Virgin Media, slammed the diesel surcharge as ‘greedy’. He said: ‘They are already accumulating money in so many other ways. How are people expected to survive?’
READ MORE: Now get ready for ULEP – that’s ultra low emission PARKING: How UK councils are introducing apps to charge drivers MORE according to their vehicle’s emissions
‘The stress around extortionate parking fees and PCNS also makes it difficult to do your job properly,’ the 45-year-old added.
‘I spend my whole time worrying about whether I’m getting slapped with a ticket or running up a huge cost. I can’t focus.’
For engineer Bojan Subotic, 52, things have reached a stage that he may find something else to do. ‘I’ve considered other professions,’ he said. ‘It’s all a cash grab, you see. It makes you wonder whether it’s worth it.’
He also said it will put self-employed people out of business. ‘Because I work for a company,’ Mr Subotic said, ‘I’m able to claim things back on expenses – but for people working for themselves, it’s impossible.’
‘People running their own businesses have to factor in all these things: diesel surcharge, congestion charge, ULEZ.
‘So then they have to charge the client more, which eventually is going to put people out of business amidst a cost of living crisis. It’s as simple as that.’
MailOnline has approached Islington Council for a comment.
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Robert Johnson is a UK-based business writer specializing in finance and entrepreneurship. With an eye for market trends and a keen interest in the corporate world, he offers readers valuable insights into business developments.