London Mayor rivals unite against Westminster parking charges
The campaign against Westminster’s controversial evening and weekend parking charges has united political rivals vying to become London Mayor.
Candidates from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens all say they oppose the charges.
Current London Mayor and Conservative candidate Boris Johnson says he has “grave misgivings” and is “deeply uneasy” about the charges.
Labour’s Ken Livingstone has called them “a pure money-making scheme”.
Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick argues the new regulations will “severely damage” the night-time economy and Jenny Jones, from the Green Party, says they are a “money-raising exercise”.
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The regulations, which are due to come into force on January 9, 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.
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Residents’ groups are divided on the issue with some opposing the measures, but others supporting them in favour of tackling the borough’s congestion problems.
An 8,000-signature petition opposing the charges was handed into Westminster Council last month, while another online petition to the council has nearly 2,000 signatures.
A government e-petition has also been created by UKIP Mayoral candidate Lawrence Webb calling for the London Mayor to be given the power to co-ordinate parking across London.
Westminster Council leader Cllr Colin Barrow says he wants “streets that are clean, safe and vibrant”.
“We do not take this decision lightly, but extending the hours of parking control in the West End will continue to improve the environment, manage traffic and ensure parking spaces are available to visitors in the future,” he said.
“More than 80 per cent of visitors to the West End use public transport at night, rising to more than 90 per cent in the daytime, and this council will be campaigning for further improvements in public transport – including later running Tube trains, rolling out more cycle hire stations and improving our own public realm.”
-Labour candidate Ken Livingstone said: “Westminster City Council’s plans to impose a new tax on Londoners and a new parking charge of up to �4.40 an hour at evenings and weekends is a pure money-making scheme.
“It’s bad for people who work in West End and businesses.
“In tough times we need to put money back in the pockets of Londoners through fare cuts and other measures to make our city fairer, and to find ways to make it easier – not harder – to live and work in London.”
-London Mayor and Conservative candidate Boris Johnson said: “I have grave misgivings about the impact these charges may have on the night time and weekend economy.
“They potentially discourage people from shopping, heading to the theatre or going to church in the area; and I have heard a great deal of concern from people who may be affected.
“My powers do not allow me to stop this from happening but we have made it clear to the borough, as forcibly as we can, that we are deeply uneasy about their proposals.”
-Green candidate Jenny Jones said: “I would support the charges if the money went straight into providing secure and cheap travel for night workers, especially women.
“However, I suspect that this is a money raising exercise by the council to keep council tax low for the next election.
“No party in London has campaigned as vehemently as the Green Party for greater measures to reduce congestion and air pollution.
“However, I am concerned that the parking charges in Westminster might be an example of green arguments being used to disguise what is actually an exercise in increasing council revenues.”
-Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick said: “Having listened to a number of businesses that operate in Westminster I am absolutely convinced that Westminster Council’s plans will severely damage central London’s night time economy on two fronts.
“Firstly, the proposals will inconvenience many low income people who work in pubs, clubs, restaurants and theatres, who often have to make long journeys home in the early hours of the morning.
“Secondly the new charges will drive many customers away from these businesses.”
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