On 21st October CAST launched a survey of Charlton supporters about matchday travel in the light of the new parking restrictions being introduced by RB Greenwich. Responses by 31st October had reached 1375 – providing a robust sample of match-goers.
We will be sharing the survey outcomes and comments as part of the formal consultation process and we have written to Cllr. Averil Lekau (RBG cabinet member for climate change, environment and transport) requesting an urgent meeting. We have also shared the results of the survey with the senior management team at CAFC.
(The background to the new restrictions can be seen at the foot of this page.)
The survey results were as follows:
- Fans travel from far and wide
It is a key issue for Charlton that many fans are now dispersed beyond the borders of Greenwich Borough. 11% of survey respondents live in the borough; 25% in adjacent boroughs of Bexley, Bromley and Lewisham; 5% elsewhere in London; 34% in Kent; 11% in other home counties; 14% elsewhere in the UK.
Over a third (38%) have a travel time of 30-60 minutes to The Valley while a similar proportion (35%) have a journey of one to two hours before and after each match.
2. Parking restrictions will significantly hit attendances
63% of respondents agreed (41% strongly agreed) that the RB Greenwich new parking restrictions would make them less likely to attend games at The Valley. In numerical terms, even if only half of those who strongly agreed did not attend a game, it could mean a loss of something like 2250 supporters. Over the course of a 23 game season that represents a loss of over a £1 million to the club plus reduced income for local businesses.
The percentage who said that the RB Greenwich new parking restrictions would make them less likely to attend games at The Valley increased to 71% (48% strongly) for respondents from Kent. This is alarming because 34% of respondents came from Kent.
The three main things which make it less likely for respondents to attend The Valley were:
- Difficulty parking near the ground 49%
- Work, family, personal commitments 36%
- Lack of travel options / travel difficulties 34%
3. Driving to the match is the preferred option for three quarters of fans.
73% say that driving and parking nearby is the easiest/ most convenient way for them to travel to the football. Public transport is the preferred option for 24%, while 4% walk or cycle and 3% choose the Valley Express service.
77% of respondents travel by car and park near The Valley for Saturday matches some of the time. Only 23% never travel by car.
73% of respondents travel by car and park near The Valley for midweek matches some of the time. (The lower percentage will be because fewer respondents attend midweek games.)
4. Restrictions particularly impact the less able and less well-off, plus women and families
13% of respondents described their financial situation as “it is a struggle to budget and plan for everything”. 79% of this group agreed (63% strongly agreed) that the RB Greenwich new parking restrictions would make them less likely to attend games at The Valley.
10% of respondents said that they could walk less than a mile. 79% of this group agreed (57% strongly) that the RB Greenwich new parking restrictions would make them less likely to attend games at The Valley.
68% of women agreed (45% strongly agreed) that the RB Greenwich new parking restrictions would make them less likely to attend games at The Valley.
Many of the comments (see below) highlight that the restrictions will adversely impact those who are elderly, less able or who bring young children.
5. Public Transport is not a viable solution for many
45% agreed (7% strongly) that public transport links to The Valley are very good, while 55% disagreed (17% strongly). This polarisation in opinion means that some more fans can possibly be encouraged to use public transport, but this is not a feasible solution for many. From Kent only 37% (4% strongly) agreed that public transport links to The Valley were very good. 22% from Kent strongly disagreed.
Comments highlight the difficulties of public transport in individual circumstances – lack of suitable options, taking longer, costing more and potentially causing safety concerns for some.
6. Fans are concerned about the impact of restrictions, regardless of their personal situation
91% of respondents agreed that the restrictions would have a negative effect on CAFC. Comments show that the impact on attendances at evening games would be particularly severe, due to the lack of alternatives to driving home later at night. Gates are already lower for these fixtures.
Fans would like to see RBG recognising and supporting the economic, commercial and community benefit of CAFC within the borough. The club is a local business which brings significant numbers of visitors and spend into the area as well as being a force for good within the local community.
7. A selection of comments
569 respondents made additional comments. This is a representative selection:
“I like public transport. However the car gets used because it is simply impractical to go to games by public transport and is significantly more expensive. I have done everything to minimise my impact of driving (drive a hybrid, car share with 3 others, park a mile away from the ground etc.) but still find myself being penalised for this. To deal with a problem you have two options... incentivise one course of action (cheap/convenient public transport above and beyond current options) or penalise. When penalising alternatives have to be offered. Greenwich council are doing neither.”
“To be frank, I'd love to see public transport make sense, but from where I live it just doesn't. If the new parking restrictions come into place I expect I'll not renew my season ticket next year and will no longer attend home matches unless there is a particular 'get together' with my friends for which I'll endure the public transport headache.”
“The inconvenience caused (particularly for midweek games) is minimal in the grand scheme of traffic in the area, and Greenwich Council shouldn't be targeting just football fans with their proposed parking schemes.”
“Midweek matches end late when public transport is not so available. A longer walk to a car at night time puts single women at risk.”
“If local residents don't want this scheme, why is the council pushing ahead with it? The fact is having a football ground in the area means more people coming in but there are usually enough spaces on the Charlton slopes and nearby for both fans and residents.”
“I have been attending matches since I was four. At the moment I am recovering from an operation and, despite being a season ticket holder, I cannot attend for a few weeks. My husband, also a season ticket holder, left at 9.30 this morning to attend today’s game and won’t get back until 21.00. We have absorbed the fuel cost increases, the ULEZ charge, will soon have to pay to use Blackwell Tunnel - today with it being closed QE bridge crossing will have to be paid for - if we cannot park near enough to the ground to be able to walk comfortably, then that will be the end of us visiting The Valley unfortunately. We have budgeted the best we can from our state pensions to be able afford to attend, bring food with us, buy our season ticket Early Bird etc to cut down on costs, but there is nothing I can do to be able to walk further than I am physically capable of since my op. I can walk far enough not to qualify for a blue badge but not far enough to walk from outside the proposed new restrictions. It breaks my heart to realise that after over six decades, we will soon not be able to attend games.”
“If the restrictions are imposed, my 85 year old father who I bring to matches by car will NOT be able to attend after 77 years of unflinching support. Please, Greenwich, do not do this, the club will suffer as will so many individuals, far more than a handful of local voters.”
“The parking restrictions are absolute nonsense, it will only help to kill the club, the council need to recognise the huge part of the community the club is and how it helps local businesses and therefore the immediate area around the ground.”
“I generally drive to evening games. Public transport would involve taxis to and from Dartford (adding around £25) as a bus runs one per hour from where we live, is often late or cancelled, and doesn't run at all outside of daytime hours to get home. The alternative is a train via Bromley with three changes, or out to Rochester and back, both of which are too much hassle to want to do regularly.”
“I am a pensioner & I drive 120 miles to get to the Valley. If I can’t park within c. 600 yards, I’ll have to stop going.”
“My family and I travel up from near Maidstone. I am nearly 80 and we can usually park without too many hills but if these parking spaces are not available I will have to walk further uphill which I will struggle with. There are usually five of us in the car and it would be very expensive for us all to use public transport.”
“I take someone with a learning difficulty. I used to bring him on public transport but some away fans “surged” (they said let’s do a Hillsborough) where he was almost knocked flying and I suffered bruising protecting him. As I am responsible for him I am not prepared to take that risk again. It’s car or no Valley for him.”
“Bexley loop on network rail was good. We would use this if reinstated.”
“Saturday parking restrictions would be ok, but midweek parking restrictions would be a disaster”.
“I can get to the valley in a little over 30 mins driving, on public transport it will be over an hour. I plan to start attending with my son - he is currently 6 - if I can’t park a reasonable distance from the ground I simply won’t be able to go with him. Travelling by public transport stops this being a local(ish) club for me and into the same bracket as any London premier league side which are all reasonably easily accessible from London bridge / waterloo. If Greenwich are seriously going to impose these restrictions it is likely to be yet another blow to our already diminishing supporter base.”
“I travel 160 mile round trip to attend home games. Car travel is the only practical way I can attend as public transport is too expensive and not reliable enough from where I live.”
“My daughter is 6 and a type one diabetic. This is her first season as a fan and she’s been loving it but parking so far away is causing us serious issues in regard to her glucose levels. We’ve even had to miss parts of the game treating her and unfortunately this is down to having to park so far away.”
“I’m a 76 year old season ticket holder who is recovering from surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy for bowel cancer. I’m now fit enough, just, to come with family and park on the far side of Charlton Park and walk. If all the cars that currently park closer to the ground are displaced it will become impossible for me to come particularly to evening matches. Adding restrictions for evening matches is gratuitous given that of the 365 days in a year only about 10 are match days - less than 3%.”
“It's the retail parks between Charlton and the Blackwall Tunnel which cause most of the Saturday afternoon congestion in the area”
“Big issue for me is my 82 year old uncle who relies on me to get him home from the Valley without having to climb that very big hill, so parking around the ground is essential”
“Transport links to the Valley from Orpington are very poor and inconvenient. Fastest way involves paying to travel into London Bridge. I would be happy to pay to park (eg park n ride but there are currently no options) so that I can enjoy football with my family. I currently park south of Charlton Park, the proposals will displace the problem to this area.”
“Midweek, I think it's an even worse prospect. So whilst not a complete game changer, the parking restrictions are just another nail in the coffin of our 50 years supporting the football club. Eventually, sadly, we'll all just get to the point of saying it's too much hassle, too much cost and we'll just buy a stream from somewhere and meet up in one house with cheap beers and have a blokes day out....indoors. Costing us a big chunk of our precious matchday experience and the club a big chunk of revenue.”
“Living in Bristol, evening matches I need to drive in order to arrive in time after work. Weekends I'll always get train or coach.”
“Myself, if this is implemented would mean I would no longer attend evening games due to the unreliable options of public transport getting home. I think this move by the Council will result in lower attendances at The Valley and therefore revenue for the club and a loss of valuable revenue streams for local businesses.”
“Travel with a less able person so we usually park near the ground and then walk which with the restriction won't be an option so will need to drop off and then park further afield which will mean walking by myself which in the winter months is dark by the time the match finishes. Public transport is expensive and again now not practical due to lack of mobility with who we travel with and although we have recently been parking in the carpark this is expensive at £45 a match and not something we would be able to sustain for the season.”
“It is about time local authorities support venues and events that provide entertainment and social purpose to the public, particularly the young, elderly and those who add to a local community. Once again the general public are being penalised, disgusting decision which will effect the local community, businesses and the club which does so much for the local area.”
“Charlton is lovely family club and we love taking our children and children to games. I could not afford to take my family on the train.”
“Travel by train to The Valley are very unreliable and very expensive at least £80 for family per match. This would price me out of many games. I also take my 80 year old dad who would struggle with the proposed walk. This would be a disaster for the club as well as local businesses who benefit from the crowds at The Valley”
“However if parking is restricted I will probably not renew my season tickets. I would be happy to pay for on street parking, but I don't think that is the objective. My final point is that where I park....to the South of Shootershill, there does not seem to be any confict with local residents or businesses on match days when fans use the "free" spaces.”
“From mid-Kent I drive my 84 year old father and 12 year old son to every home match. Public transport would take too long with changes and is too expensive. We used to park on the road behind the Curry's B&M retail park until the yellow lines were put down this season, now have to pay for a space off of Bugsby's way which is a longer walk that my father who suffers from Dementia is finding difficult to do, having to stop two or three times to rest. If we find we have to park further away and/or pay more it may mean he cannot attend after having a season ticket since 1992. I may also choose to watch the stream instead to save money/hassle which would be a shame to lose 3 generations of season ticket holders. We also used to shop in B&M, Currys when parking behind there and now use the Bugsby's Way retail park shops on matchday's therefore supporting the local businesses. Custom that may be lost if we don't attend”
"Lived in Charlton 5 mins walk from The Valley for 10 years and there were always parking spaces on matchday. Doesn’t make sense to do this now that attendances are even lower"
“I think Greenwich Council should be doing everything to encourage big attendances rather than constantly seeming to discourage us. These proposed parking restrictions will definitely force many current and potential fans not to attend matches. For well over 100 years, CAFC has been a major contributor to local pride and the Council should support this great asset rather than see it as an inconvenience. They need to work with the club, not against it, but of course we've been here before haven't we, so no surprise. Valley Party mark 2?”
“Our car with 4 supporters to & from The Valley- £12 outlay (petrol) v train to LB, then Charlton & return x4 = £71!!!. No brainer. And highly unlikely to attend if not by car as we get older each year & less mobile.”
“I travel down from North Norfolk and bring my young grandson. I have no public transport from my village, I'd have to drive 30 miles just to get a train to London but this would make a return journey far too long and expensive. I'd be more inclined to let my season ticket lapse and watch King's Lynn instead.”
“My concern, as a female who travels to and from games alone, is my safety. I don't want to walk to my car down quiet, leafy streets or through a park/over a common on my own after dark and sometimes late at night. I have made this point to RBG in my email as part of their public consultation.”
“I am a female who travels on her own. Taking public transport and the walk to/from the station/bus stop on my own in the darkness terrifies me.”
“This may well mark the end of my 65 years of travelling to the Valley. The stress of trying to find parking is already taking away from my match day experience but these new measures will stop it altogether. Perhaps once in a while I could afford £40 to park at the ground. Terribly sad and disappointed”
“I don't feel comfortable around certain fans on public transport, so if I can't park, I'll stop attending.”
“Travel is made much more complicated for us when my son attends as he has severe learning difficulties, autism and epilepsy. This makes a long journey by public transport difficult and risky in the event of a seizure so we normally drive him to within a 20 minute walk of the ground (just south of Charlton Park). If parking became more difficult in this area our son, who has a season ticket, would be able to attend fewer games.”
“We do not travel to games as we live in one of the affected roads. It is outrageous as there has never been a parking problem in the 20+ years I have lived here. Even during the premiership days. They cannot justify 9.00-9.00 on matchdays. Most traffic has gone by 6.00 and people do not come down here to park after 12.00 as the spaces have gone.”
“This may not be popular but restricted car parking will help reduce car use, cutting congestion and reducing traffic fumes which are obviously bad for human health and the local environment. The Charlton area is already very polluted and congested so any moves to improve this are welcome. Reduced traffic and congestion will allow TFL buses to move faster to the Valley from North Greenwich and Greenwich, cutting journey times for fans attending matches.”
“I normally travel by train to the valley. I rarely go to evening games since its difficult getting home from the train station late in the evening. It is difficult to safely park at the station or nearby there are no buses and its a 2 hour walk.”
“I'm 75yrs old and have watched Charlton since the age of 5yrs old. I'm having walking difficulties but I can still walk short distances. If we have to park a mile plus from the ground it will mean me not going to the game and therefore missing something I've done all my life, so I'm very unhappy at these proposals, the idea of which are great but the application if poor and like lots of council/Government proposals hidden within the proposals is talk of being better for the area but in fact just raise money nothing more”
Background to the new restrictions: