The People Parking Bay — as it happened

06 April 2017 – Asking for permission to park a bench: I emailed my Estate officer to ask if I could buy a parking permit (at full price) to park a bench in a parking bay.

06 April Estate Officer replies that they will ask parking services at next meeting on 13 April.

03 May I get an email response from Parking Services at Hackney Council that I will not be allowed a permit for a bench and cycle stands.  I reply saying how disappointed I am.

Email correspondence with Hackney Council

04 May  I start planning and purchasing items for the bay and set a launch date after establishing availability of key friends who will be able to help.

I create a sign to place on the bay.  A friend helps me edit it. I make a pdf  and get it printed on mdf at a local printers on Lower Clapton Road.  It looks very nice.

18 May  I send out the first Tweet for the bay.  I am so poor at social media, I have not even included a hashtag.  I learn about doing this.

19 Sept: I also invite the Mayor and Councillors to the opening of the bay and explain to them why I am doing this. I get no response.

19 May  A friend of mine writes a short blog to publicise the launch

Rashmee’s blog: ‘Ever thought how nice it would be to have a parklet on your street rather than just parking?’

24 May  I set up a Facebook page for People Parking Bay:

The People Parking Bay’s Facebook page

20 May  A Hackney Councillor defends the Council’s position.  A friend has an exchange of tweets with him.

20 May: I set out my position

26 May  Caroline Russell (Green Party GLA member) tweet on day of launch:

24 May  I set up this website:


26 May  Oldie magazine publishes an article about the PPB:

The Oldie: ‘Why can’t I park a bench and table instead of a car in the bay outside my front door?’

26 May  Launch of the bay on Friday evening on London Fields West Side outside my home.  I have spent the previous week collecting the items for the bay, getting some delivered and a friend with a van helping to collect the plantlocks. I cycle to the local garden centre to pick up some flowers.  I will use some of my own house plants as centre pieces for the two planters. A group of friends have agreed to come early to help set it up from 5pm onwards.

7pm: The bay is officially launched, attended by 50 or so people including local media (Hackney Gazette) and many of my neighbours.  Many more watch in bemusement from their balconies. The bay is formally opened by Caroline Russell, GLA Green Party Member who cut the ribbon held by local children and said a few words.

A few films were made at the launch by a local film maker and also Living Streets.

It was covered by Hackney Gazette.

Hackney Gazette: ‘Meet the transport campaigners trying to make Hackney’s streets safer using mobile speed cameras – and flowerbeds’

Two videos were made at the opening by Living Streets and a local film maker and transport activist Brian Jones:


28 May After  pieces of paper stuck on bay with sellotape first visitor book placed on bay.  Many visitors think that Caroline was the one who installed the bay as her name is on the sign as having opened the bay.  It does not matter.

Five visitor books fill up within four weeks

27 May Start #peopleparkingbay on advice from young passers-by. Apparently this is used in Instagram as well as Twitter.

28 May Delighted to see the #peopleparkingbay hashtag used by complete stranger.

Extensive use of hashtags on Instagram!

we are pleased with our new lunch spot #peopleparkingbay #parkingbaes . . . . #designstudio #studiolife #hackney #londonfields

A post shared by White Bear Studio (@white_bear_studio) on

30 May: I find that kids really love the bay!

01 June Bay supported by Living Streets:


15 June Local Transport Today journal publishes article in Parking Review:

TransportXtra: ‘Hackney resident wants to convert parking bays into people places’








16  June One week’s Enforcement notice placed on bay, saying it would be ‘disposed of’ by 23 June if not removed, and costs of ‘disposal’ would be passed on to the ‘owners’ of the bay

Suggestions pour in on how to deal with the eviction

17 June Set up an online petition that rapidly built up to hundreds within first few days:

18 June Lots of support for the petition

I love this begging tweet


18 June Contacted legal firm to challenge Council. Legal firm asserted Council’s action was illegal as I had asked for permission to park a bench but had been illegally refused permission.  Legal firm asked Council where the statute was that I could not be given permission to park a bench.  Council persisted with eviction notice.

18 June:  I find a notice from a little person challenging the Council notice

20 June Email Hackney Mayor and other Councillors and officers and pleading with them to allow the bay to be allowed to stay for the summer.  Do not get a reply.

20 June People who love the bay try to get others to have a ‘sit in’ on June 23rd.

22 June Article published in Cambridge News:

Cambridge News: ‘Parklets could transform the streets of Cambridge, say campaigners’

23 June Legal firm achieved a temporary stay of eviction

23 June Good wishes from across the water in Dublin.

23 June I see that Council seems to have required all illegally parked vehicles on the street to have MOTs and Tax renewed!

23 June PM: As the sun sets, the bay is still standing.

24 June Delighted to be the target of @Bob_Gunderson’s ire

28 June Bay was still standing, petition has reached almost 700 people

29 June Cars back on London Fields West Side

30 June Many people want these on their streets


28-30 June: Kids write in the Visitor book to try and stop the eviction

28 June: Poem in the visitor book, inspired by Edward Lear.

30 June  Finally accept defeat as Council persists with eviction.  Hackney Gazette announces defeat:

Hackney Gazette: ‘London Fields protester who transformed parking bay into garden loses fight with council’

03 July Hackney Citizen announces removal:



03 July Article in Evening Standard about defeat

Hackney Council ‘Hackney protester to remove People’s Parking Bay after driver complains’


03 July My running club Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets AC supports me

04 July Satirical support


05 July Popular local blogger cycles past the bay

06 July  After Council give notice that bay will be ‘disposed of’ by 7 July, I decide to move the bay.

Bay dismantled and stored in my front yard. (I have a small flat with only a small front yard open space).

People still support the idea

Throughout July and August: busy with work as I have a busy full-time job.

I do campaign about the bay occasionally.

Friends living on Glyn Road talk about how they would love to have the bay on their street and identify a suitable location near a street filter in the middle of the street opposite a church. Decide to move the bay there.

I set up a Twitter account for the bay @Parking4People

14 August  6:00pm I get back from work. I hire Pedalme App (a London-based cycle taxi firm) to move my bay from London Fields to Glyn Road, a distance of just over a mile.

A few friends and myself set up the bay on a lovely summer evening watched by a gathering group of locals.

PedalMe guys take a rest on the bay

8:00 pm — a passing couple sit in the bay and kiss.  The first LGBT kiss in the bay.

9:00pm – we tidy up and leave the bay with a visitor book and pen on the table tied to the umbrella .

16 August  People fall in love with the concept all over again

The bay seems to make people love Hackney even more than they did previously.

20 August  TfL Healthy Streets advocate, Lucy Saunders adds to the Visitor Book. Full marks!

Aug 21 People ask if there was a temporary traffic order to put this in place

1-20 Aug  I visit the bay every 4-5 days after work in the evenings, to photograph the visitor book, which rapidly fills and up and I place a second book which also rapidly fills up.  (The second visitor book was stolen, but fortunately I had photographs of most of the pages).   Locals are watering the plants. The Council cleaner says he is cleaning the bay regularly.  He smiles and says it is beautiful.  People have placed books and magazines for others to read on the table.

                       Council worker cleaning around the bay.

                       The books people have left for others to read. Many more are left

                      My colleague Paloma was passing by and sat down for rest with her friend



18 August: Council announces a pop-up parklet day in Shoreditch

23 August I get messages from friends and also a well wisher on the Facebook page saying the bay has received a 48 hour eviction notice. The notice says the bay constitutes a ‘nuisance’ and an ‘obstruction’ and it is an ‘illegal parklet’ and will be ‘disposed of’ if not removed.This time only 48 hours as it is an ‘illegal parklet’ and ‘constitutes a nuisance’.

24 August  I ring up the number provided on the bay and ask how they plan to ‘dispose of’ the bay. The ‘Authorised Officer’ says it will be put into a skip. This dismays me considerably.  I don’t want to take the risk that my investment will be destroyed and make plans to move the bay again.

24 Aug: @PedestrianLiberation makes useful points that I could use in a legal challenge. However, work is particularly busy and I do not have the daytime space to pursue this.  

25 Aug: Local residents try to save the bay by placing a visitor parking permit on it.

23-25 August  There is outrage on Twitter at the heavy handed actions of the Council. A senior councillor tries to intervene to stop the eviction. This is now picked up by local media, who contact the Council for statements.  The Council say they will talk to me.  Media portray this as a victory, but Council persist with the eviction and say the bay will be destroyed if it remains.

24 Aug: Bob Gunderson and another satirist weighs in again on the side of the motorist

My sister in law weighs in from Dublin

People finding out about the concept of ‘parklets’

24 Aug: Exploring again the concept of ‘parklet permits’.

24 August  Hackney Councillor for Transport and Neighbourhoods tweets

25 August  Eviction avoided thanks to efforts of Cllr Feryal Demeric

29 August  Newspapers portray this as a victory, though stay is only temporary

Hackney Gazette: ‘Green campaigner who turned Hackney parking bays into mini-gardens wins over council chiefs who wanted them gone’

In my defence:

  •  ‘Parklets for years’ -This amounted to two parklets in four years. At that rate it would take a   millennium to reach each of Hackney’s 1000 streets.
  •  ‘Lack of notice’:  I offered to pay for a permit for a bay, had lengthy email correspondence with estate manager, informed estate manager that I would put bay in place, wrote a couple of times to Mayor and Feryal and local councillors, got no answer.

29 Aug: Not everyone likes the idea of parklets


1 Sept: Really trying to push the concept of permits for parklets.

29 Aug: Cllr Demerci softening on idea of making parklets easier to install, but falling short of ‘parklet permits’.

30 Aug: Make sad decision to move the bay back to London Fields temporarily while I decide what to do next.

1 Sept: I hire Pedalme App again to move the bay back to the original location London Fields.

1-4 Sept: The PPB stays over the weekend.

01 September  Ecstatic reaction to the bay being back in  London Fields.

A new visitor book rapidly fills up just over a couple of days.


1 Sept: Pedal Me bike taxi service (who have done a lot of move for the PPB) want to set up a removals service given the experience they now have

4 Sept Meanwhile Twittersphere is ecstatic about my ‘victory’ against the Council.

3rd Sept: I announce the move to Tower Hamlets

4 September  Pedalme App hired again to move the bay to Barnes House car park off Wadeson Road in Tower Hamlets about a mile away.  Friends there had identified a parking spot that had been unused for months.

Someone has placed a teddy bear on the seat!

5 September  I receive an email (via the PPB website) from a local resident who says that the bay led him to talk to his neighbour for the first time, and how much he appreciates it. He sends a photograph of the neighbour’s umbrella on the bench.

6 Sept: Hackney Council call me in for a meeting, but only to lecture me about carrying out illegal activities and to say that they will not tolerate it if I do again. They are concerned that my action will give rise to more people taking matters into their own hands – putting out seating, flowers and cycle stands on the street instead of cars. For them this would be an unregulated catastrophe, a health and safety disaster.

They are immensely relieved the hear the bay has left Hackney and is now  in Tower Hamlets. They are very insistent that it must not be brought back to Hackney.

While I wonder what the point of the meeting is (as it is not at all conciliatory), they say they will continue with the programme of Council built parklets (currently at the rate of one every two years) and they will consider increasing the rate, but that this would take an indefinite amount of time and funding to implement as it is not in their current programme or within their current budget.

In any case as they carefully explain, any change of use for a single car parking space to any other use has to be accompanied by an extensive and expensive consultation process and can be vetoed by car owners. This is how it is. This is the law.

My proposal to set up a system for parklet permits where people invest their own creativity and resources into their public realm, that is overseen and regulated by the Council, minimising use of public resources and maximising private householders stake on the street, is received with amazed scepticism.  I try to persuade them that the only scalable way of expanding parklets within our streets where the majority of households do not own cars is to allow householders to take ownership of parklets, to install their own parklets. The Council officers look at me as if I am crazy.  Maybe they do not trust residents to put something out on the streets that meet ‘health and safety’ standards, (unlike cars that meet all health and safety standards for cities and are the only appropriate things to put out on our streets). This meeting has not gone well.

8 Sept: My work is seen as a piece of political art. I like that.


Mid September The Council announce an undefined ‘parklet programme’  in Hackney Today, the Council monthly newspaper and say they will display ‘pop-up’ parklets in Shoreditch on the 22 September which is European Car-Free Day. They invite me to display my ‘illegal parklet’ for the day.

20 September The bay receives a notice from Tower Hamlets Council saying that the lack of this particular parking space had severely inconvenienced the residents who wanted to park in the space.  Residents say in fact the bay was never used.  Fortunately I had decided to move the bay for the 22nd Sept in any case.

21 September  I travel to Cambridge to make a presentation about the bay at a Parking for the Future conference.  The presentation goes down very well among the academics and practitioners.  No activists except me.

Brenda Puech Parklets Presentation 170921

22 September ‘Car-free’ Day:  I set off early morning to dismantle the bay yet again, and meet Pedal Me taxis at the bay.  It is a weekday morning and no friends are available to help.  I am practiced at dismantling and setting up now, but it is hard work doing it on my own. Not sure how much further I can carry on doing this.

We cycle in an amazing convoy of flowers and colour (complete with Teddy) down to Charlotte Road where the bay is to be displayed.

Hackney Council have invested a lot of effort into pedestrianising some of the streets in the heart of Shoreditch and displaying a number of ‘pop-up’ parklets.

I have cooperated with them and displayed my bay (at huge expense and effort ) even though the idea of a parklet being ‘pop-up’ once a year is an extremely annoying one.

I take a rest on the bay after my hard labours to set it up. A passing woman joins me for a while.



A comment in the Visitor Book makes me feel I am doing something right: ‘London is lonely, terrible, overpriced and uncommunicative. Places like this help feel the love the strangers’. Anastasia

People reading and having lunch on the bay.


6:00pm:  Start taking down the bay with help from Pedal Me and a friend as the Council insist the bay must be completely removed by 8:00pm.  As I was working all day I could only be there for setting up and taking down. The bay goes back into my front yard.

22 Sept: A skip is a legal object to place on the street. People think putting a garden in a skip is a great idea. Hmmm, I’m not sure.

04 October  I set up the bay just for a day for a filming project. Channel 5 are producing a series on parking (for the new year) and they want to feature this ‘protest’ as part of the series

30 Oct: A group calling itself ‘Streets for People’ have set up a couple of parklets on the High Street in Jesmond, Newcastle.  They say they were inspired by my action (and my Twitter name as well it seems!). I feel very honoured.

        “Waterston told JesmondLocal that Streets for People took inspiration for the “parklets” from a lady who managed to set up a ‘mobile garden’ in front of her house in Hackney, London”.

Streets for People take action to make Jesmond roads greener

13 October: Parklets come to Birmingham

Very nice to see this. Huge fanfare and publicity. Seems to be funded jointly by the Council and Atkins. Will it be a success, they ask?  Will people visit? My experience of parklets I have installed is that they are immensely popular. However, my parklets are in residential areas and are community ‘spots’.  It is cheap and cheerful. You can have many of these for the price of one of the very fancy Atkins parklets.  Is my parklet any less successful or a community asset because I did not spend much on it?  I don’t know. We are not allowed to find out as my parklet was ‘illegal’ with no system in place to allow it to become legal. It remains in a forever illegal limbo.