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Will Westminster City Council ever understand motorcycling?

December 25, 2009

Parking Officers at Westminster City Council have this week released an additional report to their original one dated 1st October 2009, in which they discuss the points raised during meetings they had with four major motorcycle groups and one very well respected transport consultant (Dr Leon Mannings).

Despite the strong opposition to the motorcycle parking tax expressed by each consulted body, it is regrettable to note that Westminster Parking Officers have still not got the message that their bike parking scheme is not wanted. Despite the arguments exposed by each consulted body, the supplementary report still recommends to go ahead with the permanence of the bike parking tax in Westminster, which is against the will of thousands of motorcyclists and their supporters.

The most important point that has drawn our attention in the supplementary report is one made by the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), as follows:-

“Most people with a policy impact on motorcycling do not understand motorcycling. Do policy promoters in WCC [Westminster City Council] understand motorcycling?”

This is, in our opinion, spot on. Westminster have absolutely no idea of motorcycling whatsoever to the extent that they have given themselves the luxury to ignore 3,000+ written objections to their motorcycle charging scheme, probably due to the fact that they don’t understand more than half of the points raised in each of them.

When you hear Conservative bureaucrates, such as Councillor Susie Burbridge, saying “motorcycles, even small ones, pollute more than Hummers” or else “being environmentally friendly would be to encourage motorbikers to use more public transport”, you can imagine the complete lack of awareness shown by these politicians regarding motorcycle issues. The only reason why Councillor Danny Chalkley, the architect of the bike parking tax, decided to introduce a stealth tax on motorcycle parking is purely to raise additional revenue to make his (potentially illegal) Partnerships in Parking (PiP) scheme financially more attractive to other councils. He doesn’t understand and appreciate any of the benefits of motorcycles on congestion, pollution and how they contribute to relieve an over-crowded and tired public transport system in London. Unsurprisingly, Westminster’s report fails to address the point made by MAG.

Another example that illustrates the lack of understanding of motorcycling is when Parking Officers believe that it is not appropriate to create additional on-street parking spaces until the off-street ones are fully taken up. Can’t these politicians understand that the whole point of motorcycling is to benefit from a fast and reliable mode of transport, which is heavily dependent on the provision of parking spaces close to our destination. Offering spaces in car parks, on the upper or lower floors, which force bikers to walk down to the main entrance and walk back to their destination is a massive obstacle to keeping motorcycling a fast and reliable mode of transport. We do not want free off-street parking, we want free on-street parking, but this sounds like a foreign language to Chalkley and his Conservative colleagues, who only make decisions on financial grounds.

The second point that has drawn our attention in the report is the complete lack of risk analysis and assessment of the consequences that Westminster City Council may bear, should the motorcycle parking tax be made permanent. The PiP scheme, which heavily relies on the Verrus pay-by-phone system, is currently under investigation by the European Commission for potential breach of European law, and yet Westminster Parking Officers are confident that “the motorcycle charging scheme is on solid legal grounds and that the correct legal procedure has been followed in its implementation”. Well, if the scheme was indeed on legal grounds, the European Commission wouldn’t have launched an investigation into the PiP scheme, which entirely relies on the way the Verrus pay-by-phone system was introduced in Westminster, which in turn is the only viable method offered to motorcyclists to pay for their parking. UKFRANCE.org thinks that there is a serious degree of negligence in the report, as one of the main consequences of making the bike parking tax permanent is totally ignored. The extent to which it is strongly believed that the infrastructure of the motorcycle parking tax is illegal can be demonstrated by the intentions of the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign to sue Westminster City Council should Councillor Chalkley decides to make the scheme permanent before the experimental order expires on 4th February 2010. Let’s not forget that an EU investigation and a court order taking place before and during the next council elections in May 2010 will probably not make the Conservatives look very trust worthy in Westminster!

We believe that Westminster City Council have seriously mis-evaluated the impact of their motorcycle charging policy. Not only do they keep ignoring or mis-judging the legal consequences of their actions (EU Commission’s current investigation, the potential launch of an inquiry by the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) into the way the PiP scheme was implemented and the legal case that the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign will launch against the Council should the motorcycle parking scheme be made permanent), but also some key other concerns raised by the motorcycle community including:-

“The cost of implementing the scheme has not been set out transparently (aside from the infrastructure associated with charging)”.

“It is felt that WCC [Westminster City Council] are not listening to motorcyclists or taking their views into account”.

“WCC have not adequately defined how any revenue above the projected budget will be used”.

“Any income raised must have positive impact on motorcyclists in terms of facilities and road safety”.

Oh well, if we were Councillor Chalkley, we would have scrapped the bike parking tax by now, or at least, let it go upon expiry of the experimental traffic order on 4th February 2010.

But what will the final decision be, its consequences on Westminster City Council, their Parking chums and Verrus? Even if the bike parking tax is scrapped now, it is too late to stop the EU Commission’s investigation.

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Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit  http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez  http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

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Si vous avez une experience a partager et que vous souhaiteriez voir publiee sur UK France Bikers.com, n’hesitez pas a nous contacter en cliquant ici.

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4 Comments
  1. Maria permalink

    Whatever we say about the bike parking tax, Westminster will come up with spin. They are on their own, everyone is against the tax and yet these politicians make more and more spin about it. When will they understand that their job is to serve the public in what they want and need?

  2. Momo permalink

    This report is a load of garbage. It’s just another attempt of Westminster to brain wash the public.

  3. Thierry Muller permalink

    Westminster council has declared war on motorcyclists the day they introduced the bike parking tax.

  4. Adrian Novodor permalink

    Motorcycles and scooters are the answer to London’s congestion problem. The City of Westminster needs to encourage motorcycle use. Charging bikes to park in solo motorcycle bays is discouraging bikes and I can’t believe Westminster City Council is trying to say otherwise. What a load of crap!

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