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Are Westminster City Council treating motorcyclists like idiots?

July 6, 2009

As described in our previous post, the Borough of Westminster was yet again the scene of another enormous demonstration on 1st July 2009. Thousands of motorcyclists protested at parking charges, and there was great national media coverage of the demonstration throughout the day. In addition to being broadcast on many national radio channels such as Absolute Radio, BBC London Radio (part 1, part2, part3 and part4) and LBC Radio, the demonstration made it on the More 4 News national programme and below is the video that we highly recommend you watch, if you have not already done so:-

Now, the bit that has drawn our attention the most in the above news programme is the interview with Conservative Councillor Danny Chalkley, the architect of the bike parking tax in Westminster.

Let’s analyse what he said:-

“In Westminster, we occupy a very unique position in the centre of the UK’s capital (…)”

Not quite! Westminster are not the unique occupier of the centre of the UK’s capital. The Boroughs of Camden, Kensington & Chelsea, Islington, the City of London, to name a few, also occupy the centre of the UK’s capital. We wish Danny Chalkley had said “In Westminster, I occupy a very unique position in the centre of the UK’s wealthiest Borough Council”, that would have been, in our opinion, as arrogant as his statement above.

“(…) We have inmense pressures and we have to manage the kerb space around us (…)”

Absolutely, we couldn’t agree more! Danny Chalkley gives himself and his fellow colleagues the benefit of free parking for their polluting four wheeled vehicles on the said kerb space and, in addition, we have evidence that the Council’s fleet of scooters invade (for free) the bike parking bays, hence occupy valuable kerb space, which would otherwise be used by members of the public. So yes, Danny is under inmense pressure to manage what’s left of the kerb space around him, after he’s been so nice to his colleagues and so nasty to the public.

“(…) And I think it’s quite right that motorcyclists should make a contribution towards the cost of maintaining and enforcing a parking capacity for them on the streets of Westminster”.

We think Danny would have better said “I think it’s quite right that motorcyclists should make a contribution towards the revenue foregone as a result of me granting free parking to my fellow colleagues and myself, and enforcing a parking capacity for us on the streets of Westminster”, don’t you think? That would have probably been a slightly more accurate statement. We now understand why the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and Camden Borough Council offer free parking to motorcyclists, that’s because these councils do not offer free parking to their members! But of course, Westminster, lead by Conservative members, seem to like to cheat on their own rules and avoid having a taste of their own medicine.

We would also like to point out that the bike parking bays in Westminster have remained in exactly the same condition as when their use was free of charge. In our opinion, there is not a single additional benefit that has been added to them since the parking charge was introduced, except a few useless security devices as shown here. Therefore, we are dying to be explained what contribution is required to maintain parking bays that have remained in exactly the same condition as when their use was free of charge. Perhaps motorcyclists have been identified as lovely cash cows to compensate for Danny Chakley’s and his fellow colleagues’ free parking permits.  Not to mention that the vast majority of these bays are constantly over crowded, resulting in our bikes being damaged and additional repair costs being incurred, because of Westminster’s poor ability to manage their kerb space, after allowing themselves to park their polluting four wheeled vehicles for free!

parking 1

parking 2

When asked the question “is it just a money making scheme?”, Danny Chalkley replied the following:-

“Well, we are generating an income from charging for a service (…)”

So, after eleven long months, Danny now admits that the scheme is generating an income, when it has always been advertised to be revenue-neutral! Oh well, we suppose it’s never too late to admit your own mistake. We wonder what service is being offered because, as mentioned above, the parking bays have not been altered in any way since the introduction of the charge, and motorcyclists, due to a continued lack of parking space, need to park their bike in over crowded bays, as shown on the above pictures. We are absolutely chocked to say the least that motorcycle parking in Westminster is being referred to as a service. It is, in our opinion, nothing but a charging scheme designed to rip off motorcyclists, in order to fill up the Council’s coffers and promote the career of its designers.

“(…) and any surplus that we generate from the scheme is reinvested back into the City, into transport related activities.”

We thought Danny was going to finish his statement by “reinvested back into the City”. Honestly we were so reassured when he added in the terms “into transport related activities”. By the way, it would be greatly appreciated if the said surplus (initially £1.04 million and now £0.7 million per the More 4 News programme above) could be reinvested into motorcycle parking, rather than into any transport related activities. Didn’t we say before, consistently with all other UK authorities, that motorcycles are the solution to road congestion and reduced air pollution? It sounds like, for Westminster City Council, cars are the solution, not bikes. Danny has recently implemented a scheme whereby resident car bays are shared with visitors between 10am and 4pm, which inevitably increases car traffic in Central London and brings yet more revenue to the Council, when the Mayor of London has been working very hard to limit the number of cars coming into Central London to cut pollution and road congestion. Well, we wonder whether Westminster City Council staff, when initially recruited, are asked to tick a box in their employment contract that says “I will make every effort to design and implement strategies that are counter-productive to those implemented by other public bodies, for which the aim is to improve the quality of life of UK citizens and residents”.

We wonder whether Danny Chalkley will continue to reingurgitate the same arguments over and over again, when Westminster City Council is facing the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign in Court in the next few weeks.

 

Please join and support the campaign to get the bike parking tax in Westminster scrapped before it spreads all over the UK and the European Union. Visit http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

Soutenez et participez a la campagne dont la mission est de forcer la mairie de Westminster a supprimer la taxe de stationnement des deux-roues avant que le concept ne se propage a travers le Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Consultez http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

 

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One Comment
  1. Josef Salomone permalink

    Danny Chalkley seems never to tell the truth as Westminster Council divert a large part of the revenue earnt from parking fees and fines in to non transport related projects. When Danny’s in court he will look even more nervous than he does in that video.

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