Exclusive parking bays axed in new scheme
Sanchez Manning FIVE hundred people living in Westminster could lose the exclusive use of parking bays they have paid substantial fees to secure. On Monday, the council will launch a pilot scheme, which allows visiting drivers to park in spaces residents
FIVE hundred people living in Westminster could lose the exclusive use of parking bays they have paid substantial fees to secure.
On Monday, the council will launch a pilot scheme, which allows visiting drivers to park in spaces residents pay �100-a-year to keep free for their own cars.
Fifty streets in St John's Wood, Regent's Park, Lisson Grove and Queen's Park, where the parking chiefs say the bays are underused, have been selected to trial the scheme.
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Motorists and shop owners have welcomed the change, saying it will bring people back to many areas they previously avoided for fear of being given parking tickets.
But parking campaigners and permit-holders that will now have to share their bays claim the scheme will be a disaster.
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Paul Pearson, who runs website penaltychargenotice.co.uk, said despite the council's claims, the initiative will fail to make it easier for visitors to park - as well as making it more difficult for residents to find spaces.
He said the main problem for drivers is that many of the new shared bays, which can be used between 10am and 4pm, are right next to ordinary pay and display zones where the hours of use are 8.30am to 6.30pm.
"It was done ages ago and Westminster stopped it because it was really confusing for the drivers," he said. "Motorists are now going to get thousands more tickets because it's so unclear."
Deborah Kay, who lives in St John's Wood and has a permit to park around Ordnance Hill - one of the council's chosen roads, also expressed worries.
She said: "There are so few properties around here with parking spaces attached, so for the residents this will have a serious negative impact."
Val Howarth, who also pays an annual stipend to park on the streets around her home on Ordnance Hill, said: "It's going to be a disaster. It's already hard enough to park here and around the High Street in St John's Wood."
However small business owners, who say Westminster's draconian parking measures have scared off custom, are in favour of opening up the residents' bays.
Maureen Butterworth, who owns Tiddlywinks children's clothing store on St John's Wood High Street, said the scheme is a fantastic idea.
"It's the first thing the council has done to help us," she said. "When Alistair Gilchrist was in I said to him that these residents' bays are empty during the days so it seems ridiculous not to make them pay and display because you just can't park here."
The cost of parking in the shared bays will be �1.10 per hour and drivers can pay either by phone or by picking up a parking scratch card at libraries or council one-stop shops.
Cllr Danny Chalkley, Westminster's cabinet member for city management said: "Many residents, particularly our most vulnerable, have long argued for a visitors' parking scheme in Westminster.
"We have responded and will be piloting a scheme in three areas of the city which will allow residents' friends and relatives to pay to park in underused residents' bays during off peak hours.
"There are no plans to axe vital residents' parking spaces in Westminster and we will continue to operate residents' parking controls in order that people are able to park near their homes.
"Indeed, Westminster residents will benefit from an extra 1,000 dedicated parking spaces across the city by the end of 2009/10 as part of a pledge made under our Living City programme.