Monday, November 28, 2011

Westminster Council Parking Charge

Its been a while seeing an unpopular decision as Westminster council`s  plan to introduce new parking charges from next January. Not since the Poll Tax imbroglio. You know its serious when Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone publicly and unequivocally agree on an issue. They, like a multitude of people are against the new charges. Much vociferous opposition has been raised by a broad spectrum of the population. The business owners in the West End dont like it. The churches dont like it. In fact so strong is their feelings about the the issue that they plan to put up  thier own candidates come 1014 says Churches Together in Westminster. Didnt even know churches had a trade union. Theatreland is outraged. Club and restaurant owners are at arms. Even the government is not impressed. A view expressed by the delectable  Transport Secretary Justine Greening this week. But neither her, nor Mayor Boris Johnson can intervene. So all the perfectly coiffured one could do was urge the boffins at Westminster council to have a rethink about the issue.

The question is, given this seemingly unanimous objection to the parking charges, why is Westminster council going ahead with the plan? According to Collin Barrow, leader of the council no one likes government decisions that involve charges. Am with him on that. But the council surely should not be seen as engaging in extortion and putting businesses at risk. Which to all intent and purposes is the case here.

My own view is that the scheme has less to do with traffic calming and more a means to raise revenue for the council. Its not about traffic calming at all. If you want to know what night time traffic tailback is go to Madrid. A city I frequent and know fairly well. The amount of traffic in the centre of the city at these hours being targeted by  Westminster council is most definitely higher, if not double what we have here. Ideally I think the council should scrap the idea.

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