FURY has been expressed by residents that new delays mean that their commuter parking nightmare will drag on for yet another year.
In 2003, following concerted pressure from residents and district councillors, Essex County Council agreed to conduct parking reviews in Epping, Buckhurst Hill and Debden to resolve the growing commuter parking crisis.
Residents close to London Underground stations in the areas claimed all the parking spaces in their streets were taken by commuters seeking to avoid the charges in council owned car parks.
But in Debden there was anger when they discovered that the affluent Buckhurst Hill and Epping areas would have their parking reviews conducted before them.
They claimed that the greater number residential streets near the station, and a higher volume of commuters made their situation more urgent.
Some said that their roads became so crammed with cars that emergency service vehicles found it impossible to negotiate through them to treat the area’s many elderly residents.
Debden residents were originally promised that action would be taken this year, but a new set of delays mean that the review is unlikely to be started before the end of next year.
Staff shortages and hold-ups on other projects in the county mean that the implementation of the Epping Parking Review will not take place until early 2012, pushing the Debden review back even further.
Epping Forest District Councillor Jon Whitehouse said that a council meeting in July Safer and Greener Portfolio Holder, Penny Smith, informed them of further possible delays to the implementation of the Epping parking review.
Councillors recently received the new timetable. Councillor Whitehouse said: “Councillors have been told that county council contractors will not begin the work advertised until the new year.
“The first phase of the restrictions were implemented in 2007 and the proposals just advertised are the result of what was originally meant to be a "post-implementation review" to be held six months after phase one was completed.
“In fact it took Britain less time to fight and win the Second World War than it's taken Essex County Council to conduct the Epping Parking Review. The Olympic Park has also been planned and built in far less time.”
Barry Johnston, 63, lives in Torrington Gardens just round the corner from Debden tube station.
He said: “What is happening now is that because we have rails preventing commuters parking on the grass we have people parking right on the corner of the road and preventing emergency vehicles getting past.
“There are a lot of elderly people down here and it is important that these vehicles can get easy access to them.
“Epping and Buckhurst Hill both have two bites of the apple, with first reviews rejected after consultation then new ones conducted. We have had nothing yet. People down here are so angry with the situation and are fed up with being treated like second class citizens.”
David Linnell, of the Loughton Residents Association, said: “We are worried about these further delays because we do not know how much money will be left afterwards for the Debden Review.
Residents down there have waited long enough and are very angry.”
Councillor Penny Smith, Safer, Greener and Highways Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: "Councillors decided that they must proceed for the benefit of Epping, Buckhurst Hill and Debden despite the significant increase in costs at a time when councils are trying to save millions of pounds from their budgets.
"Without the capacity or resources to do all three reviews simultaneously, the only choice was to do one after another. I am sure the residents of Debden have very good reasons for arguing they should be first. I am also sure the residents of Epping and Buckhurst Hill would be just as able to argue in favour of their areas if asked. I am always happy to listen and if there are ways we can improve the process I am open to suggestions.
"Given much greater resources, councillors would undoubtedly have wished to complete all three reviews much more quickly but in the current economic climate all councils have to look carefully at spending. For me, the top priority is not the order in which the reviews take place, but ensuring we complete them all properly.
"Technically, reviews are very complicated to deliver and by their nature they generate a great deal of public response. In taking public comments into account wherever we can it does take more time."