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'Hate campaign' claims over bikers' parking row

PUBLISHED: 10:54 16 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:01 07 September 2010

Josie Hinton PARKING bosses have threatened legal action against motorbike protesters who they say have launched a hate campaign against Westminster Council staff. The Wood&Vale has reported how angry protesters staged protests in Westminster against co

Josie Hinton

PARKING bosses have threatened legal action against motorbike protesters who they say have launched a "hate campaign" against Westminster Council staff.

The Wood&Vale has reported how angry protesters staged protests in Westminster against controversial new motorcycle parking charges brought in by the council in August.

But council chiefs say the protesters have resorted to bully-boy tactics which include harassment and threatening behaviour against Westminster officers and councillors.

The protesters could face up to six months in prison - or a fine of up to £5,000 - if a court found them guilty of harassment.

Examples of the alleged misbehaviour include the posting of councillors' addresses and mobile phone numbers on the internet and bombarding them with calls.

Inflammatory statements have also been posted on the internet including the threat that anyone who supports motorcycle parking "must accept the consequences of their actions" and calls for "total war" against Westminster staff.

But the committee of the Bike Parking Tax Forum said the allegations had previously been dealt with and the council's legal team had assured them the matter was closed. They also said the "flimsy" allegations were being used to detract attention from the issue of the unpopular parking charge.

Protester Warren Djanogly said: "We are and always have been open and transparent in our discussions, and have always been against anti-social or illegal activity. The brazen attempt by Westminster to link our committee, made up of volunteer citizens and commuters, to alleged criminal activity is yet another diversionary tactic to steer attention away from the core issue - an unjust stealth tax dressed up as a parking charge."

He added the British Motorcycle Federation (BMF) has demanded a public apology from the council for the implication that it supports illegal activities.

But parking boss Cllr Chalkley said: "We support people's right to protest peacefully against council polices that they may not agree with. We also understand that occasionally passions can run high, but the actions of some of those opposed to the council's trial of motorbike parking charging fees go well beyond legitimate democratic opposition and protest.

"In recent weeks a number of our staff have been subjected to nothing more than a hate campaign of harassment, intimidation and bullying.

"If councillors and council officers continue to be targeted in this way we will report those responsible to the police and will not hesitate to pursue legal action to bring an end to such behaviour."

Since the council introduced the controversial parking charges, the borough has seen eight protests by the No to Bike Parking Tax Forum.


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