HillingdonFirst Privilege Card
The Council are introducing a privilege card for residents in June. It will replace library cards, give residents cheaper parking than non residents and allow the council to charge non residents for using waste and recycling centres in the Borough. Some local shops have also agreed to offer discounts to residents.
Details can found on the Council’s web site at www.hillingdon.gov.uk/hillingdonfirst
They say the costs will not be put on Council tax bills but will be funded by charging non-residents extra for using Council facilities. That sounds like the proverbial free lunch but as we all know there is no such thing.
What they have overlooked is that if the scheme is adopted by other local authorities we will be paying for their schemes when we use their facilities. As the schemes will all cost money to run, on average therefore we will be paying more for this privilege than we are saving.
We can add to that the inconvenience of having to carry around yet another piece of plastic. Imagine turning up at your local recycling centre (I still call it the “dump”) only to find you have forgotten your card and have to pay a charge!
What we are left with in terms of a benefit is a retail discount card. But is this something that a Council rated in the bottom 3 out of the 33 London Boroughs by the Audit Commission should be spending its time on? There must be other priorities.
It would be far better for all local authorities to get together and agree not to introduce these schemes and save us all money and inconvenience.
I have taken the matter up with Cllr. Douglas Mills (LBH Cabinet Member Improvements, Partnerships & Community Safety). Click here to see our correspondence.
Log Of Events
24th March 2009
A Mr Andrews made aFreedom Of Information request to the Council asking amounst other things for the costs of installing the new parking meters . These costs were not included in the cost of the scheme quoted by the Council and reported in the Gazette on 10th June. The request has seemingly been ignored by the Council in breach of its obligations under the Act. Please click on www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/parking_meter_replacement#outgoing-19770 to see the correspondence.
10th June Ruislip & Northwood Gazette
According to the Gazette of 10th June the cost of the cards and computer network involved will be £475,000 which does not include the cost of installing the new solar powered parking machines which appeared in the the borough’s controlled parking zones earlier this year but have yet to be activated.
The article stated that free access to Harefield Civic Amenity Site is one of the benefits of the scheme, however all ‘residents of the area’ currently have the right of free access (and have had since 1978) and Hillingdon has the duty to provide a place where we can dispose of household waste free of charge (Environmental Protection Act s51 paras 1, 2).
Ruislip & Northwood Gazette of 17th June
Letter to the Editor from Tony Ellis, Chairman of the Northwood Residents Association dated 15th June
The Northwood Residents' Association is implacably opposed to the concept of the Hillindon First Card.
It would appear that no cost/benefit analysis was prepared prior to the development of the scheme. LBH seems to be unable to identify the total set-up costs of parking machines, cards, computer systems, staff costs and publicity, the annual running costs and the estimated benefits accruing to residents. It has stated that the parking machines needed replacing anyway. If this scheme hadn't been introduced, the machines would have been replaced as and when necessary, and the replacements would have been much cheaper as they would not need the complex components required to capture data, read cards and wireless data to a central point.
The consultation process was totally inadequate. Only 150 residents were consulted in the first phase to test the acceptability of the scheme and some 350 replies were received from a subsequent mail shot. This document contained questions that were biased towards favourable answers and on the strength of these, LBH decided to go ahead. The questionnaire did not mention the complexities or cost of operating the card. Nor did it mention that information about individual use would be captured and held on a computer for up to 6 years.
In a recent discussion with the Northwood Residents' Association, the Leader of the Council, Ray Puddifoot, agreed that the consultation process should have been much wider. He was also unwilling or unable to produce any cost or benefit summary.
Consultation notices of the changes to parking charges have been posted on lampposts and in car parks. The notices in Northwood are at best ambiguous, and we have asked LBH to verify the correctness of the information. If it is wrong, we believe that LBH will be obliged to post consultation notices again. By law LBH are obliged to advertise consultation notices in a local newspaper. LBH use the Uxbridge Gazette whuch is not circulated in Eastcote, Northwood and Northwood Hills. We believe this to be against the spirit of the law, if not itself illegal.
The scheme discriminates against non-residents. Cllr Puddifoot said that this is deliberate policy. Some 50% of shoppers in Northwood will thus be discriminated against. Eastbury (Three Rivers) residents are raising a petition protesting against this discrimination.
The new parking charges are being introduced on 29th June and yet LBH are sending out the cards in two tranches of 73,000. They have admitted that they do not have a complete data base of eligible residents so it is likely that many residents will have to pay higher parking charges as they will not have received their cards. Any residents who are not in possession of their card will also suffer the increased charges.
This is an ill-conceived scheme and unnecessary expenditure in a time of recession.
Chairman - Northwood residents' Association
18th June 2009
We understand that the Eastbury Residents Association have collected over 700 signatures on a petition to the London Borough Of Hillingdon protesting about the scheme. The Association covers an area in the Three Rivers District Council (Herts) adjacent to Northwood (Hillingdon). Many members use Northwood as their local shopping centre. A copy will be available here once it has been submitted.
It seems absurd that we will be charging Eastbury residents a premium to park in Norhwood while Norhwood residents will be able to park in, say, Rickmansworth at the local rate.
21st June 2009
I have been told by someone who has received his card that it interferes with the operation of his Oyster card. He is in the habit, like many people, of placing his wallet on the Oyster card reader to gain entry to his tube station.
However when his new hillingdonfisrt card is in the same wallet he is refused entry. He now has to remove his Oyster card and place it separately on the reader. (I have now checked with my own card and can confirm this is correct).
Yet another downside to this waste of time card.
29th June 2009
Eastbury Residents Association have now submitted their petition to the Council. 900 people have signed. It reads as follows:
Eastbury Residents Association
PETITION To The London Borough of Hillingdon
The London Borough of Hillingdon is introducing a residents’ card this summer which “will offer access to services and privileges that are not available to nonresidents.” Members of Eastbury Residents’ Association are dismayed that the card will be funded through charging non-residents extra for using council facilities such as car parking charges, which are to be doubled in Northwood for Three Rivers District Council residents.
We, the undersigned, for whom Northwood is our closest centre for shopping and other essential amenities such as doctors, banks and the Library, wish to protest against the discriminatory nature of the increased parking charges and call on the Borough of Hillingdon to abandon plans to introduce differential car parking charges for non-Hillingdon residents.
30th June 2009
Concern has been expressed that a minority of people who are asked tp pay to use the Harefiled dump, either because thaty have forgeooten to bring their card with them or are from outside the Borough will simply fly-tip their rubbish.
2nd July 2009
The following questions were put to Cabinet Members at the Council meeting of 2nd July by members of the public
From Tony Ellis To Cllr Mills (5.1)
“What were the details of the cost/benefit analysis that was produced prior to the introduction of the Hillingdon First card?” (5.1)
From Valerie Mellor to Cllr Mills (5.2)
“With regard to the Hillingdon First Card, what is the total cost and the cost of the various elements, in particular:
• Computer set-up costs
• Number and cost of cards
• Cost of distribution of cards
• Cost of consultation
• Cost of publicity
• Cost and number of new parking machines
• Staff costs for set-up of scheme and number of staff employed directly on administration
o of card
o Annual running costs - staff
o computer systems
From Lesley Davis to Cllr Mills (5.3)
“Can you please let me know when does the Council propose to review the success or failure of the Hillingdon First Card scheme and how will that be measured?”
From Lisa Maclay to Cllr Puddifoot (5.4)
“At a recent committee meeting of Northwood Residents’ Association, attended by the
Leader of the Council, Ray Puddifoot, I understand he claimed that libraries would be
used more with the introduction of the card. Please could he say why this would be
4th July 2009
Harrow Council have said in reply to a Freedom Of Information request from Paul Grimshaw that as the HillingdonFirst Card is only being applied to Hillingdon's Civic Amenity Site in Harefield, Harrow residents will be able to continue to use the other Hillingdon Civic Amenity sites free of charge. They say that within the West London Waste Authority area, there is a long-standing agreement that constituent authorities accept waste from each others residents - as disposal costs are shared.
Please click on www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/hillingdonfirst#outgoing-24653 to see Paul’s request and the reply from L B Harrow in full