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Is parking in Westminster “firm, fair and excellent”? No

May 22, 2010

Councillor Danny Chalkley, former Cabinet member for Parking and Transportation at Westminster City Council (Central London), who had to leave his position a few days ago, was describing the council’s parking policies as “firm, fair and excellent”. That statement of his is absolutely hilarious, given how unjust and unfair his parking policies have been.

The socially exclusive Pay by Phone parking method

While forcing motorists and motorcyclists to pay for their parking by mobile phone and debit/credit card, ignoring those who don’t own a mobile phone and/or a credit/debit card, Chalkley decided to scrap all parking meters, thus forcing everyone to adopt the Pay by Phone technology. Of course, as Chalkley couldn’t be asked to squeeze 20 minutes in his busy schedule to pay for parking using a Pay by Phone system that doesn’t work properly more often than one can possibly imagine, he decided to give himself and his fellow Tory councillors the discreet privilege of a free Westminster wide parking permit. It would have been far too embarrassing for Chalkley to receive complaints from his fellow Tory councillors about the crappy Verrus (now PayPoint) cashless parking system, while he didn’t have an issue with inconveniencing thousands of motorists and motorcyclists daily, who were trying to pay for their parking with a socially exclusive payment method. Not to mention those who are (understandably) reluctant to give their credit/debit card details over the phone or by SMS for security reasons.

Parking in Westminster: "firm, fair and excellent"?

Since Chalkley decided to introduce a tax on motorcycle parking in August 2008, in a view to raising revenue without providing a value-added service, the bikers have had no choice but pay for their on-street parking by mobile phone and debit or credit card. There is no practical alternative to this payment method, other than pay via the council’s website prior to leaving home with no guarantee to find a free space at the other end. And even that requires you to hold a debit or credit card. Despite 8,000 written objections that Chalkley received during two consultation periods, he just didn’t care and went ahead with making his motorcycle charging scheme permanent. He promised the installation of security devices in motorcycle parking bays across Westminster, as well as the implementation of an on-line discussion forum for motorcyclists to provide feedback, but none of these promises has ever seen any light.

In exchange for the payment of a £1 a day stealth tax (which is likely to rise over time if not scrapped soon), the bikers are provided with over-crowded bays in which they are forced to park their motorbikes and scooters like sardines in a can, with the extremely high risk of their bike being damaged and incurring additional repair costs. But of course Chalkley didn’t give a monkey and all he was interested in was to bring in money to boost his political career, while discouraging the use of a congestion free mode of transport. Fortunately, that didn’t work out very well for him since he didn’t get the position he was aiming for at TfL (Transport for London) with the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and he is now out of Westminster Cabinet.

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Chalkley’s replacement, Councillor Lee Rowley, has a lot on his plate to deal with. With the grave mistakes made by his predecessor over the last four years (including £15 million wasted in a failed CCTV system in 2009, the implementation of an annual £430k loss-making motorcycle parking scheme, a troubled Partnerships in Parking scheme with other councils costing taxpayers £675k, highly unpopular proposals to extend parking control hours until midnight to catch up with a £22 million budget overspend, the latest parking enforcement contract cock-up with Mouchel costing the taxpayer over £1 million with the council having to face another court case and the highly disruptive and embarrassing activities of the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign), a lot is expected from Councillor Rowley in the next four years, starting with the immediate scrapping of the much hated motorcycle parking tax.

On 24th June 2010, the bikers will be taking Westminster City Council to the High Court to challenge the motorcycle parking tax, described as “fair, firm and excellent” by Westminster parking services. How coincidental is it that Chalkley leaves his Cabinet member position just four weeks before the council is taken to the High Court by the bikers? Will motorcycle parking in Westminster be regarded as “firm, fair and excellent” by the High Court? Stay tuned.

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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. 2bikers permalink

    Councillor Chalkley will not be missed by anyone, good riddance!
    Let’s hope his replacement has got a brain and will realise what a mistake this hated and unwanted bike parking tax is.
    Bikers and scooterers will not go away and are standing united and stronger every week.

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