Westminster Council says on your bike to tax appeal

BIKERS campaigning against the �1-a-day charge to park on the streets of Westminster have lost their appeal against the council.

The “No To Bike Parking Tax” group took its campaign to the Court of Appeal after the High Court backed Westminster’s charge which was introduced in January last year.

But on Tuesday the judge rejected claims by the group’s chairman Warren Djanogly that the council had introduced the charge simply to raise revenue and gave approval for the payment to remain.

In his ruling, Lord Justice Maurice Kay, sitting with Lady Justice Smith and Lord Justice Moore-Bick, said the council was justified in charging motorbikes in order to help regulate demand for on-street parking space.

He said: “It is common ground that increasing demand, if evidentially well-founded, would justify charging. It is the obvious way to dampen excess demand.”

On the issue of whether it is “fair” to charge motorcycles in the same manner as cars, Lord Kay said: “It seems to me that the council was entitled to see the spreading of cost between the two groups of users on a fair basis as a legitimate consideration.”

He also dismissed accusations that the council had not carried out a full consultation before implementing the charge.

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But Mr Djanogly says the ruling is not going to dampen the bikers’ spirits and the group is “100 per cent” going to take their fight to a European court.

He said: “The ruling itself is quite astonishing in so far as Westminster is actually using the argument that cars pay so it’s only fair that bikes pay.

“They have said they feel it’s right to end the distinction between different vehicles but there’s nowhere in the law that says the council can do that.

“They are also now saying they want to ‘dampen excess demand’ but that was never expressed to the people consulted – they were told it was nothing to do with deterring motorcycles. Why would the least polluting and least congesting form of transport be subject to charging to dampen excess command?

“We are far more confident of getting a proper hearing in Europe.”

The Court of Appeal’s decision follows the High Court’s ruling last July that the council had “perfectly legitimate objectives” in bringing in the charge.

Cllr Lee Rowley, Westminster cabinet member for parking and transportation, said: “We believed that this was a legitimate policy and it has been absolutely and rigorously scrutinised in two different courts and through a long consultation.

“The important thing now is how we move forward from this. This case has cost local taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees and staff time and we hope this ruling will finally draw a line under the issue. But I want to make clear this is not about the council versus motorcyclists.

“They are more than entitled to do what they think they should but I know they have spent a lot of money and I think it’s time that we all step back and see where we are.

“What they have to ask themselves is when will it ever be enough? They passionately believe in something but a number of people and two courts do not agree with them.”

The council charges �1 per day to park in its motorcycle bays or �100 for an annual permit.

It is free to park a bike in off-street car parks in which there are 900 spaces.