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Westminster Tories’ parking fiasco

April 19, 2010

Westminster City Council’s parking department, headed up by Conservative Councillor Danny Chalkley, has never been the subject of so much debate in the past few months. It’s been amazing to see newspapers, websites, TV and radio news full of articles and broadcasts covering the financial scandals caused by Westminster’s parking policies.

Councillor Danny Chalkley - Westminster Council

Councillor Chalkley keeps saying that his parking policy is “firm, fair and excellent”, but when we watch or read the news, it seems that it’s anything but “firm, fair and excellent”. Well, if Westminster’s parking policy was truly “firm, fair and excellent”, Chalkley wouln’t feel the need to give himself, and his fellow Conservative colleagues, the benefit of a free official parking permit, allowing them to park their car anywhere in Westminster free of charge, while he charges motorists up to £4 an hour and comes up with ridiculous and cynical proposals to extend parking control hours until midnight, to catch up with a £22 million budget overspend.

Late last year, the council decided to appoint Mouchel to run its parking enforcement activities and put an end to the existing contract with NSL Services, after they had been accused of imposing PCN targets on parking attendants and threatening them of dismissal if they didn’t meet those targets. NSL Services have been the subject of so much bad publicity for treating their staff worse than animals, that Westminster Council seemed to have no choice but cease their contract with them and appoint another company instead in order to avoid damaging the council’s reputation any further. But we were amazed to learn that the council subsequently had to cancel the parking enforcement contract they agreed with Mouchel late last year, after having spent around £200,000 worth of taxpayers’ money on setting up the agreement. We have also learned that a leading European parking firm called ACPOA has lodged a complaint that could cost Westminster Council £50 million for having acted “unlawfully and unfairly” during the contract bidding process. That’s £50 million that taxpayers may have to pay as a result of Tory councillors’ incompetence.

Westminster’s parking department is also under investigation by the European Commission for potential breach of EU law as a result of encouraging other councils to adopt the Verrus (now PayPoint) pay-by-phone parking system without following the appropriate tendering process imposed by the European Union. Westminster Council spent more than £675,000 worth of taxpayers’ money to set up their Partnerships in Parking (PiP) scheme, which is now strongly suspected to be illegal under European law. We were amused to find out last month that Alastair Gilchrist, senior officer at Westminster Council, cancelled at the very last minute a presentation that he was scheduled to give to hundreds of attendees at the ParkEx exhibition in London to cover the merits of his PiP scheme. Was he really too busy as he claimed at the time or did he actually lose his bottle?

In March 2009, £15 million worth of taxpayers’ money was spent in a failed CCTV system, with cameras that were of too low a resolution (704 x 576 pixels) to meet the DfT’s Traffic Management Act.

Chaos on the Westminster roads caused by the bikers every Wednesday morning in protest at a parking tax

Warren Djanogly, Chairman of the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign, lodged a legal case with the High Court against Westminster Council’s controversial motorcycle parking tax, which is strongly suspected to have been implemented in a pure view to raising revenue rather than providing a value-added service that had always been free of charge before. While the campaign is waiting for a Court hearing date (likely to be in the autumn), bikers continue to gridlock Central London every week and cause chaos on the roads during rush hour, until Councillor Chalkley finally listens and scraps his motorcycle parking tax.

Opposition Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group at Westminster City Council, has called on the authority to “set up a full independent inquiry into the Council’s parking operations following the catalogue of financial disasters, unpopular policy decisions and legal blunders over recent months that have cost Council Tax payers millions of pounds and tarnished the Council’s reputation”. Labour Councillors have put down a motion for the next meeting of the City Council on Wednesday 28th April 2010 calling for a full independent inquiry into the Council’s parking policies.

Meanwhile, thousands of bikers will be encouraging Westminster residents not to vote for Councillors Danny Chalkley and Colin Barrow (Leader of Westminster City Council) at the forthcoming council elections. On 1st and 5th May 2010, motorcyclists will gather in Westminster and visit both Chalkley’s and Barrow’s wards, leaving leaflets against them in every letter box, car, shop, cafe, restaurant, tube station etc to persuade residents not to vote for these two individuals. The bikers will repeat their actions on 6th May, just before and during the elections (more information on this is available here).

Councillors Chalkley and Barrow have given the bikers a hard time by stealth taxing them to park despite the thousands of objections they have received, some of which from their own residents, so it is only fair that the same bikers give these two councillors a hard time in return. After all, Chalkley and Barrow have seriously damaged the reputation and financial position of Westminster City Council, so residents are entitled to be fully briefed before going to the polling station.

SCRAP THE TAX OR SCRAP THE TAX MAKERS!

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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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If you have a story you would like to see published on UK France bikers.com, please contact us here.

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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One Comment
  1. Yamaharider permalink

    Westminster parking department needs a very deep “spring clean” from top to bottom to say the least.

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