Celebrities join fight over Westminster parking charges

Stars of stage and screen have pledged their support for a campaign calling on “greedy” Westminster Council not to press ahead with controversial plans for weekend and evening parking charges.

Almost 8,000 people have signed a petition urging the council to abolish the charges that they say will be “catastrophic” for businesses, cause job losses and put night workers’ safety at risk.

The extended regulations, which are due to come into force in January, will see parking controls imposed in parts of Marylebone and the West End on Sundays from 1pm to 6pm and from Monday to Saturday between 6.30pm and midnight.

Commenting on the petition initiative, Hampstead actor Tom Conti said: “In a time of such financial hardship for so many people, this action by Westminster Council, that will harm so many businesses and, therefore, those who work in them, is criminally irresponsible.”

Roger Lloyd Pack, who is best known for his role as Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, said: “This feels like an iniquitous and punitive strategy to extract money from an already beleaguered profession, also from a public who pay high prices anyway to go to a show.

“Surely it’s a self-defeating policy anyway. All it will do is drive people away from coming into the West End. Everyone will suffer, including Westminster Council.”

Loose Women star Linda Bellingham appealed to the council to reconsider “for the good of our wonderful city”.

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She said: “The West End is a huge draw to tourists, not just from abroad but within the UK.

“Let us encourage families and older citizens to our theatres and galleries and make the cost at least a little less.”

A host of famous names have signed the petition, including Bill Paterson, Diana Quick, Janet Suzman, Tim Pigott-Smith, Barbara Flynn and Nickolas Grace.

Cllr Lee Rowley, cabinet member for parking and transportation, said the petition, which will be handed into the council next Wednesday, would be treated “the same as any other”.

He said: “Our door is always open to chat on any of these issues, but we do believe these changes are necessary and important to keep London moving in the future.

“We have spent over a year finding out how people are actually using our streets.

“The decision the council has made balances the views of residents, businesses and visitors with that data and the legal responsibilities that we have.”