Bikers win hollow parking victory
Josie Hinton COUNCIL bosses have provided hundreds of free parking spaces for motorcyclists following a wave of protests from campaigners. From next month, motorcyclists will be able to park for free in any one of the 900 spaces in the council s 14 underc
COUNCIL bosses have provided hundreds of free parking spaces for motorcyclists following a wave of protests from campaigners.
From next month, motorcyclists will be able to park for free in any one of the 900 spaces in the council's 14 undercover car parks and will have a reduced parking rate elsewhere of �1 a day.
The concessions follow months of protests over the council's decision to start charging motorbikes to park on the borough's streets.
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But parking campaigners have reacted with scorn to the move, which they have labelled "political manoeuvring" and have vowed to carry on with their protests.
Warren Djanogly, chairman of the campaign, said: "This is a desperate attempt, by increasingly worried local councillors now fearful of their political careers, to appease the mounting unrest against their blatant and totally unjustified revenue raising schemes.
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"It is easy to give away something for free which wasn't bringing in any income in the first place, and for a council who claims to have consulted motorcycling groups, this initiative merely displays their lack of understanding that a primary reason for riding is the ability to park closer to one's destination."
He added that the CCTV security and weather protection provided by car parks made them the one place where riders would be more likely to accept charges, making the move "totally back to front".
But parking chief Cllr Danny Chalkley said he has listened to the views of motorcyclists, residents and businesses and had introduced the initiatives to make life easier and more convenient for motorcyclists. Other plans include a "carnet" scheme - allowing 10-day permits to be bought for a reduced price to motorcyclists - new motorbike security devices, and a promise to cancel the first parking ticket issued to bikers who fail to pay for their parking.
The council is also considering long-term plans to charge environmentally-friendly motorbikes less to park.
Meanwhile, the council has angered a new group of road-users.
Westminster cabbies staged a demonstration outside City Hall on Wednesday to protest against parking charges they claim cost them �3 to use the toilet.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), who staged the protest, is calling for the council to allow 10 minutes free parking so they can stop and use the toilet free of charge rather than having to pay Westminster's basic rate of �3 to park.
"They are punishing us for going to the toilet and fining us up to �80 for doing a basic human function," said John Paul Pace, London head of the RMT. "All we are asking for is a normal human right to go to the toilet. We work in Westminster, our taxis are our offices and the streets are our work places."
Cllr Chalkley said: "Westminster does more than any other borough to help the taxi trade and we are currently working on the creation of the first ever designated 'rest ranks' in the capital, where taxi drivers will be able to park for free.
"If this group has a genuine grievance they can raise it in the usual way rather than resorting to tactics which just inconvenience innocent members of the public.