Westminster City Council (WCC), which plans to extend parking charges in the borough after 6.30pm from 9 January in a bid to ease congestion, announced today that it had struck a deal with Q-Park to enable drivers to park their cars in its West End car parks for £8 a night, or £2 per hour from 6.30pm to 7am.
Although the deal would mean workers could save up to £2.80 an hour when charges are introduced, it would still entail finding an extra £40 a week to pay for parking, said Labour councillor Paul Dimoldenberg.
“It is no relief or comfort for the many West End evening workers who have no choice but to commute to work by car from the Home Counties and the London suburbs because there is no public transport alternative at 3am in the morning,” he said.
“Does the Council expect West End businesses to foot the extra £2,000 a year for each member of staff who needs to bring their car to work? This is effectively a tax on ‘work’ and is the last thing that either businesses or employees need when we are in the middle of an economic storm”
However, WCC councilor Lee Rowley, cabinet member for transport and parking, said it had listened to the needs of residents and businesses to work on initiatives such as this one.
He said: “London is a global 24-hour city and is as busy at 10pm as it is at 10am. Having safe, secure and affordable parking for everyone is a key element in changing our parking policies."
'Inane move' for important year
Last month restaurateur Richard Caring added his weight to the campaign to halt the introduction of parking charges in the borough by calling the idea ‘the dumbest thing’ he’d ever heard.
“It’s a very short-sighted, inane move because it will cost them an awful lot more in damage to businesses in the West End of London – dramatically so,” he added.
Labour councillors in Westminster have also today written to Sebastian Coe, chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG), asking him to help stop the plans, also opposed by the British Hospitality Association, which would come into force on an important year for the capital.
“In 2012 the eyes of the world will be on London. I ask you to do all you can to stop Westminster Council imposing a major parking experiment on the West End at a time when London will be attracting unprecedented numbers of visitors,” wrote Dimoldenberg.
“Business have already been told to arrange for their staff to work from home during the Olympics, such will be the crush on public transport. It cannot be in anyone's interest for the very many visitors to London during the Olympics and Paralympics to have to endure additional inconvenience because of the effects of Westminster's parking experiment"
WCC told BigHospitality it had to introduced parking charges due to increased demand for street spaces at all hours.
"We think that less congested streets will be better for business and healthier for workers, visitors and local people.We appreciate that this is an unpopular decision in some quarters. We are charging at times when parking was previously free, but we have a duty to manage the roads effectively," said WCC leader Colin Barrow.