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London Fields protester who transformed parking bay into garden loses fight with council

PUBLISHED: 14:53 30 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:53 30 June 2017

The bay has proved popular with passers-by. Picture: Brenda Puech

The bay has proved popular with passers-by. Picture: Brenda Puech

Archant

It was fun while it lasted but a Hackney parking space converted into a mini garden is set to be removed following a driver’s complaint.

The council has told Brenda to remove the bay. Picture: Brenda PuechThe council has told Brenda to remove the bay. Picture: Brenda Puech

The People’s Parking Bay has proven so popular with passers-by in London Fields over the last month it’s on its fourth visitors book and 700 people have signed a petition for it to stay.

People regularly stop and sit on the bench, which has even played host to a couple’s first date. The pair wrote: “This is the best first date spot in London” in the visitor’s book.

“It’s so disappointing because it has been such a hit with the community,” said Brenda Puech, the Hackney Living Streets campaigner who bought the street furniture for the bay outside her house. “My neighbours have been really supportive and the reception has been fantastic.”

The space is carpeted with a fake lawn and has a bench with two large plant pots either side, fitted with bars for chaining bikes to. Brenda installed it after purchasing a parking permit from the council.

A couple even had their first date on the bench. Picture: Brenda PuechA couple even had their first date on the bench. Picture: Brenda Puech

Green London Assembly member Caroline Russell officially opened the bay at a launch party, which featured speeches, photography and sparkling wine.

She said: “It’s a real shame Hackney Council wants to get rid of it. If somebody wants to use the space outside their house for something other than storing their car they should be allowed to do that, especially if they’re paying the council to do so.”

Brenda argues it no longer makes sense to design streets in a way that puts cars first.

She thinks cycling and walking ought to be encouraged and steps should be taken to make streets more hospitable and pleasant places to cycle, walk and relax.

At the launch her friends and fellow campaigners spoke of their desire to recreate the garden elsewhere in the borough. But that now seems impossible.

The council left a notice on the bench saying it, along with the other items, must be removed.

The notice is adorned with strong criticisms of the council’s “jobsworth” approach, most of which we cannot publish.

A council spokesmansaid: “While we support the aims of the Living Streets campaign, Hackney Council does not allocate parking spaces to individuals, with parking permits giving residents or their visitors the right to park in a space in a parking zone.”

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