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Westminster’s customer service standards and the bike parking tax: a happy marriage?

October 19, 2009

Westminster City Council’s Chief Executive, Mike More, has come up with six new standards designed, in his opinion, to improve the council’s very poor customer service. The fact that Mr More has felt the urge to impose on his staff six new standards, suggests that the quality of the council’s customer service, as it currently stands, is worse than appalling. Let’s examine each standard in turn and see if Councillor Chalkley’s motorcycle parking tax complies with Mr More’s new customer service strategy.


Standard 1: “We deal with things without being told”

Standard 1Oh yes you do! Councillor Chalkley has cynically boosted parking revenue by introducing a stealth tax on motorcyclists without being told to do so. He introduced the crap Verrus pay by phone parking system and no one has told him to do so. He has scrapped all parking meters from the Borough of Westminster and, again, no one has told him to do so. But when it comes to finding out that his appalling initiatives are likely to generate at least a £10 million overspend for his department, we are hoping he will be told off.


 Standard 2: “We make it easy”

Standard 2Ohhh touchy, we love this one! Do Westminster really think they’re making it easy for bikers, i.e. their customers, to pay for their parking with the atrocious Verrus pay by phone system, which has not been designed for motorcycle parking? Pay by phone is the only viable method for bikers to pay for their parking, and when the Verrus system breaks down, which happens more often than it should, then what do they do? Motorcyclists, as well as car drivers, are expected to call the system every 30 minutes, when it’s down, to see if it’s back up, and hurry to pay before they get issued with a PCN by a CEO, desparate to meet their daily target. And what if your mobile phone’s battery is flat or your mobile network is temporarily unavailable? What do you do then, eh? And when it’s raining, snowing, freezing cold, do Westminster think it’s easy for bikers to pay the parking tax in the street, with their mobile phone in one hand and their credit/debit card in the other? That’s how Westminster make it hell easy for their customers!


Standard 3: “We don’t need to be asked twice”

Standard 3How many times have motorcyclists asked Councillor Chalkley to scrap the bike parking tax? 2,634 times by 18th February 2009 and 2,919 times by 3rd July 2009 (according to the council’s own figures), but Chalkley doesn’t need to be asked twice, does he? Or perhaps we could look at the other extreme where Councillor Angela Hooper doesn’t give the opportunity to residents to express themselves on a regular basis as, to quote her own words, “when it comes to guidance on policy, residents have that opportunity every four years”. So she doesn’t need to be asked twice either, since she refuses to listen in between elections.


Standard 4: “Our customers make us better”

Standard 4That’s exactly right. First, they pay your bloody wages, the fortune that Alastair Gilchrist and Kevin Goad get paid for introducing and supporting highly unpopular schemes, such as the motorcycle parking tax. Customers also pay for the city council’s numerous mistakes, due to lack of common sense and management skills. For instance, according to Labour Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg“the city council is now faced with a £850,000 bill and thousands of pounds more in lost income thanks to the failure to comply with Department of Transport regulations on the size of CCTV camera images”. What about the £17 million invested in now failed Icelandic banks and the £12,140 spent on a completely igonored motorist survey?


Standard 5: “We take responsibility”

Standard 5Why hiding the truth about the bike parking tax then, by saying that it is revenue-neutral when clearly, it’s not, and it’s generating an income? Councillor Chalkley admitted it on National TV, so why keep saying that the scheme is revenue-neutral? Why not admit that the bike parking tax has got nothing to do with kerb space management, but with the Partners in Parking (PiP) scheme lead by Westminster City Council, for which additional revenue is needed to sell it to other councils, together with the Verrus pay by phone system? Or perhaps, we could look at Councillor Jean-Paul Floru, who denied that he had given himself the benefit of a free official Westminster wide parking permit, until he got caught in a Freedom of Information request, and while he voted in favour of stealth taxing motorcyclists for parking. Is Floru taking responsibility for his bad failure at the June 2009 European elections or is he blaming the public for having made the right decision not to vote for him?


Standard 6: “We serve others as we wish to be served”

Standard 6Really? So if that is the case, why 18 Westminster Conservative councillors, who have given themselves the benefit of a free official parking permit, have not purchased their own resident parking permit to park their car outside their official hours of duty? Could it be that they find the Verrus pay by phone parking system so atrocious that they don’t want to use it? Or could it be that they are so tight that they can’t be asked to pay for their parking, after having voted in favour of charging motorcyclists for parking? If these councillors were truly serving others as they wished to be served, they wouldn’t charge for parking, since they can’t be bothered to be charged themselves, would they? And what about Councillor Susie Burbridge who answers her emails in an aggressive and sexist manner: ““To my mind, your notice is not a warning I see it as a threat. Bully-boy tactics until you get your own way. A common symptom of the male species”. This is how these councillors wish to be served!


Parking quote



We now leave you with our favourite quote, taken from the Westminster City Council’s internal newspaper “West Words”, which illustrates why parking in Westminster is the top complaint. Well done, Councillor Chalkley! Start with scrapping your motorcycle parking tax, then thousands of complaints may suddenly go away.







Please join and support the legal fight to get the bike parking tax in Westminster scrapped before it spreads all over the UK and the European Union. The next demonstration is on 31st October 2009, don’t miss it! For further details, visit

Soutenez et participez au proces dont le but 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. La prochaine manifestation aura lieu le 31 octobre 2009, ne la ratez pas! Pour plus d’informations, consultez


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