CPZs - lowering the democratic bar for grey goo

"I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. When you win, there is ... a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view, and that's what I intend to tell Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the president; now let's work."
- George W Bush

Every time we're forced to revisit the subject of Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) we're more convinced that they should only ever be introduced as a last resort, because they produce more unpleasant side effects than Substance D. But Lewisham Council's 2013 Parking Policy Review recommends measures to make it easier for them to impose them on local communities:

1. Reduce the vote in favour required in local consultations from 55% to 50%. Given that a turnout of only 10% is enough for the vote to be considered valid, this means that only 5% need be in favour of a CPZ for it to be imposed on everyone.

2. Streets that vote against the CPZ may nonetheless have one imposed on them if it is necessary for the effective implementation of the scheme.

While the second recommendation seems eminently sensible (in a "democracy just doesn't work" sort of way), the first recommendation is completely unjustifiable - the voting threshold ought to be raised, not lowered. Before unleashing the T-Rex of CPZs into a chaotic system like Lewisham's streets, the Council should have to be able to demonstrate a significant majority supports the idea.

It's an open secret that Lewisham oversteps the law, using CPZ income to pay for other local transport services and takes this income-generating potential into consideration when evaluating future CPZ projects. The review notes that:

Proportionally, on-street parking income funded approximately 50% of the Council’s spend on highways maintenance and improvements in 2011/12, although it can be seen from the above that income from Pay and Display and Permits mostly cover the cost of managing and enforcing parking services...

Whilst it is recognized that new CPZs will generate additional income, the financing of the costs of implementation, and abortive costs on those schemes that do not proceed, will need to be considered as a part of the council’s overall financial strategy.

At a time when Council funding is being severely squeezed, introducing new CPZs or whacking the prices up on existing ones are tempting strategies. Car owners tend to be better off and those who own their homes tend to benefit from appreciating house prices by way of compensation. But every time a new CPZ is introduced, it causes all sorts of unforeseen problems.