Camden refuse to rule out Westminster style parking charges
PUBLISHED: 10:36 15 December 2011
Camden Council bosses have refused to rule out imposing controversial evening and weekend parking charges that have sparked widespread anger in Westminster.
Nightclub and restaurant owners have hit out at the possible fees - which they warn could devastate the borough’s burgeoning music scene and night time economy putting jobs at risk.
Deputy leader Cllr Sue Vincent was challenged about whether Camden would promise not to introduce charges at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday last week (December 7).
The Labour councillor said: “No, I can’t give any guarantees because I do not know yet what the impact is going to be in the south of the borough and the West End when Westminster starts their new policy.
“We don’t know what is going to happen and I can’t sit here and say I won’t or no I definitely will. The impact could be very severe.”
Neighbouring borough Westminster is planning to introduce charges of up to £4.40 an hour from 6.30pm to midnight Monday to Saturday and 1pm to 6pm on Sundays, which could lead to overflow parking in Camden.
An independent study into the economic impact of the policy in Westminster warned it could cost the West End £800 million a year and threaten more than 5,000 jobs.
Alex Proud, owner of the Proud Camden nightclub and restaurant in Stables Gallery, Chalk Farm, said: “Camden has two core strengths. One is the market and the second is its night-time economy.
“It is dangerous to endanger the night-time economy, which is a big employer.
“That is a lot of money and it would be unpopular. People hate wasting money.
“I think Westminster is an unpopular council, whereas in Camden the council is quite well liked. These charges wouldn’t be very Camden-like.”
Conservative Swiss Cottage Cllr Don Williams, who posed the question, said: “The impact would be tremendous.
“A lot of our businesses there depend on people coming in at night. This could put businesses out of operation.
“Westminster is expecting the loss of 5,000 jobs, if we lose just a proportion of this it would be devastating.”
Cllr Vincent also admitted the council’s policy on motorbikes would have to be reviewed because of the “considerable parking stress” in the south of the borough which has become “very difficult to manage”.
But the deputy leader also said she was looking into steps the council could take to avoid charging residents or visitors.
In a new government commissioned report which examines how the UK economy can be boosted, retail expert Mary Portas said car parking is a critical issue in revitalising high streets and urged councils to create free parking for shoppers.