Monday, February 01, 2010

It's all about the money. Show me the money

Westminster to ban free parking in the evening
Evening Standard
Sri Carmichael, Consumer Affairs Reporter

Free evening parking would be scrapped across much of the West End in plans being considered by a London council.

The move, which has outraged motorist and tourism groups, would extend parking meter charges and single yellow line penalties until midnight from Monday to Saturday in Westminster's central controlled zones. Currently, there is free parking in those spaces from 6.30pm on such days.

Theatres, restaurants and late-opening shops fear they would be hit by the changes as customers would stay away. Motoring groups claim the council has designed the move to raise money they have lost from drivers during the recession.

Westminster council is also considering raising parking charges with a doubling of rates suggested for St John's Wood from £1.10 per hour to £2.20.
Central zones currently charge £4.40 per hour but this could rise to £5. The F zone south of Marylebone Road is marked as a potential target as well as all other zones except B and C, which are north of Marylebone Road.

Residents with parking permits would be exempt from the new enforcement structure, which was discussed at a council Cabinet meeting on Monday.
The option to raise meter charges was said not to go “above inflation”. But although residents would be exempt from the longer charging hours, the price of their permit could still rise above inflation.

A council report last month said that parking charges needed to go up for “harmonisation” purposes so they are on a par with those in neighbouring Camden that charges £4.80 per hour.
It is understood that council chiefs were asked to find “additional income” from parking and noted it was “earmarked to contribute to” £14 million of savings.

Richard Pulford, chairman of the Society of London Theatre, said: “The proposition is ridiculous and would be gravely damaging. We have a lot of people who come into the West End from out of town by car because they often cannot get back on public transport. To add parking to their cost would be extraordinary. It would be a huge blow to the night-time economy.”

Paul Pearson, a campaigner who runs the website said: “I think it's disgusting, it's just for revenue-raising, pure and simple.”

Cllr Danny Chalkley, Westminster council's cabinet member for city management, said: "As one of the most congested boroughs in the UK there is a huge amount of pressure on Westminster's parking network.
"We have a challenging role in striking a balance between the many competing needs and demands for our kerbside space in order to keep the city moving.
"At the start of the new decade and with the
London Olympics just two years away, now is a sensible time to re-examine parking policies in parts of central London.
"It's important to stress though that no decisions have been taken yet as to any potential changes to parking in Westminster."

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