‘We support Westminster parking charges’ say residents

Controversial schemes wins backing of residents’ groups who say their opinion is being drowned out

While challenges to Westminster’s evening and weekend parking charges have been mounting up – a number of residents supporting the scheme say their voices are not being heard.

High-profile figures, including the London mayor, government ministers and celebrities have expressed their concerns. But some residents say it is people living in the affected areas who should have the main say.

The council’s extended parking charges – due to be imposed on January 9 – will see restrictions on Sundays from 1pm to 6pm in parts of Marylebone and the West End. Charges will also be introduced in the West End from Monday to Saturday between 6.30pm and midnight.

Marylebone Association committee member Michael Bolt said: “We support and want the weekend restrictions because of the sheer amount of congestion in Marylebone on Sunday afternoons.

‘A free for all’

“Without any parking restrictions, it’s a free for all on Sunday and, as a result, it can be extremely difficult to park.

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“The situation has changed dramatically over the last 10 years with the increase in Sunday shopping.

“With relaxed restrictions, more and more people are increasingly using their cars to come into the area.”

The association’s support for weekend charges are echoed south of Oxford Street by the Mayfair Residents Group which backs evening restrictions. Chairman Ron Whelan said: “We residents in London’s West End live in one of the most polluted areas in the UK and regularly have to endure the blight brought by the unregulated demand for free parking at night time and at weekends.

“This environmental cost is being paid entirely by the residents and I see no reason as to why the people who are creating this cost should not also pay something.”

Westminster parking boss Cllr Lee Rowley says the charges are initially on trial for “a limited period of time” to tackle a problem the council has “spent over a year researching”.

He said: “Local resident associations recognise this problem and have supported the changes. Taxi organisations also support the changes we are making to try to reduce congestion.

“I have seen for myself the sheer volume of traffic in the West End. Westminster is absolutely committed to ensuring that its streets will work for the next 10 years. These proposals are intended to do that.”