Leytonstone tower block residents win parking battle with council

Tower block residents who took on Waltham Forest Council over plans to take away their car parking for three years have achieved a definitive win.

People living in Fred Wigg and John Walsh towers in Montague Road, Leytonstone, were told to move their cars by August 5 so their car park could be used by contractors renovating the blocks.

Determined residents blockaded the car park for six days, rebuffing council employees trying to paint new yellow lines, until the council agreed to consider creating a temporary car park.

They warned controlled parking zones in the surrounding areas limited where they could park, forcing them to pay if available spaces filled up.

At a planning committee meeting on March 2, plans for a 68-space car park for residents to be used while their normal spaces are occupied were approved unanimously by councillors.

Sonia McKenzie, chairman of the Fred Wigg & John Walsh Tenants & Residents Association, told councillors residents were “relieved” at the decision after feeling their concerns were “not listened to in the past”.

In August last year, Helena Asimeng, 57, explained residents were angry because they would “have absolutely nowhere” for the three years while work was carried out. 

She said: “Waltham Forest should really try to put themselves in our shoes, we are not asking for anything out of the ordinary.

“I use my car for everything because I have a slight health issue. For shopping, for going to church and, when I’m working, I drive to work.

“There’s a stigma that, if you are in social housing, you can be treated anyhow. We pay rent, we are secure tenants who have been here for many years.”

In August, Cllr Louise Mitchell, cabinet member for housing, insisted “vitally important” work on the towers could not be delayed but that the council hoped to have alternative parking ready by the end of September.

Following the blockade by residents, a council spokesperson said that the yellow lines were “to ensure access routes are kept clear for emergency vehicles” and “unrelated to the refurbishment taking place”.

They added: “Emergency access work has been suspended while we take on board the views of residents and review alternative parking arrangements for residents on the estate.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter