Westminster Council’s army of parking wardens largest in country

Westminster’s “army” of parking wardens is larger than any local authority in the country, new figures have revealed.

The borough employs 229 traffic wardens, nearly a hundred more than the second highest council, Islington, which has 135.

The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request and the news comes after Westminster topped the table of London boroughs for the number of parking tickets issued – with nearly 500,000 fines dished out to motorists in 2012.

Paul Pearson, founder of the website PenaltyChargeNotice.co.uk, who lives and works in Marylebone, said the scheme is about raising money at the expense of motorists.

He said: “It just goes to show how motorists and businesses in Westminster are affected. They have an army of wardens, and hundreds of cameras and Smart cars.

“It shows that they are raking it in at the expense of the community. Having so many wardens puts pressure on each individual warden to issue tickets, which means motorists are being penalised for the most minor of offences.

“They do it to raise funds. It’s driven by the cutbacks in government grants, they need to raise revenue and they are doing it by targeting motorists.”

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Westminster Council came in for severe criticism in December when it sought to introduce evening and weekend parking charges in the West End. The council eventually dropped its proposal after a public campaign.

Mr Pearson added: “The council’s attitude to parking was summed up in the West End proposals last year.

“They showed they were prepared to go against 100 per cent of residents and businesses.”

The council said it has halved the number of tickets given to motorists over the past 10 years.

Cllr Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for business, said: “Six hundred thousand cars enter central London every day and Westminster runs 41,000 on-street spaces.

“The emphasis should not be on the amount of traffic wardens an area has – it should be on the level of compliance amongst motorists.

“We all know the rules, and they are in place to stop the 1,990 streets in Westminster becoming chaotic and increasing the risk to pedestrians and other road users through poor visibility, double-parking, blocked driveways and congestion.”