Westminster raises parking charges in double blow for motorists

Visitors to Marylebone and the West End have been hit with a double whammy after Westminster Council followed up the introduction of evening and weekend parking charges by hiking up the hourly rate.

Motorists looking to park south of Marylebone Road will have to pay up to �4.80 per hour or �1 for just 12 and a half minutes.

The rise marks a 10 per cent increase in tariffs throughout the borough although the council says this is in line with inflationary increases.

The news comes after another setback to campaigners who argued last month’s introduction of evening and weekend parking charges would deal a massive blow to churches, theatres and businesses in the borough.

Westminster Labour leader Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg said: “At a time of growing economic gloom, increased ‘backdoor’ parking taxes are the last thing that businesses, employees and residents want or need.

“Westminster’s finances are in a mess and these parking charges are all about raising money for the council and nothing to do with traffic management.”

The changes, which come into place on November 1, will see tariffs increased from �4.40 to �4.80 in parts of Marylebone, �2.20 to �2.40 in Paddington and Church Street, and �1.10 to �1.20 in St John’s Wood.

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Parking on Sunday – which was previously free – will cost �4.40 in Marylebone and �4.80 in the West End from December 1.

Last month’s parking shake-up saw charges introduced on weekday evenings in the West End and on Sunday afternoons in southern Marylebone and the West End.

A petition signed by almost 3,000 people had been handed to the council opposing the move.

Parking boss Cllr Lee Rowley rejected the claim that the rise had been introduced through the ‘backdoor’, arguing Cllr Dimoldenberg had discussed the tariff review a number of weeks ago.

“We know there is never a good time to change the costs of parking, but as a council we have not applied an inflationary increase to parking charges since 2009 and these changes reflect that,” he said. “We will continue to charge less in some areas of the city than neighbouring boroughs and offer value for money through our pay by phone system, which enables motorists to pay by the minute to park.”

The council says its tariffs still compare favourably with neighbouring boroughs as Camden charges up to �4.90 per hour in parts of the eastern border with Westminster.