End for Westminster Council's West End parking charges

City of Westminster parking sign Plans to introduce evening and weekend charges were opposed by businesses and celebrities

The end of the road for Westminster's controversial parking charges.

Tonight it's gone. It was meant to ease congestion in the West End by making drivers pay for late night parking and parking at weekends.

It started small with a few restauranteurs, casino workers and theatre goers who complained about the proposed charges at night.

But it didn't take long for the protest to grow in noise. When the churches got involved over the weekend charges, you felt the council was losing the argument. But still the council pushed on.

'Crazy' idea

The man behind the plan was council leader Colin Barrow and he soon found himself isolated. Critics said he was only doing it to fill a black hole in the Tory council's budget.

Not only did businesses revolt, politicians from within the Conservative Party including the mayor began to turn on him and his "crazy" idea.

The Evening Standard went into full-on campaign mode and the parking idea looked untenable. What seemed to really rile people was the council did not shift one iota.

We thought the idea had been put in the long grass until after the Olympics. But when Mr Barrow stood down earlier this week - he said unrelated to the parking row - the whole scheme looked doomed.

Why carry on with a deeply unpopular idea when those remaining could attribute it to a former regime?

But as the late night and weekend charges have been scrapped indefinitely, the question now is how to deal with the congestion at night in the West End.

Other councils have introduced late night parking charges with few protests.

Let me know your thoughts...

Tom Edwards Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

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  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    We have a major problem with congestion in Westminster. It causes a multitude of problems from environmental pollution, to noise pollution to serious delays. Building more/wider roads only increases traffic. The solution is to reduce the amount of journeys. Parking charges achieve this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    It's really quite simple - London is a vibrant capital city. If you want less congestion and a less economic activity go elsewhere. Whilst I don't doubt for one minute that congestion can be irritating, mitigation CANNOT be at the expense of being the wonderful capital city we are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Now let's start to barrack Barnet. They switched the meters over at Xmas to phone and coupons by post. So you have to stand in the p*ing [horizontal] rain, usually in the dark, work out where you are and what button to push on your touch screen (ie tap in 40 mins - not 440 mins). The prepay coupons are a minimum of 1hour @ £2ph- no more 30 or 40 minute options. Sorry locals -Sainsburys for me now

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Labour said this cost Westminster £1m, the Tories reckin it was only £250k. £250k is still a despicable amount of money to lose. If the Tories are so concerned about congestion then why on earth was Boris so dogmatic in scrapping the extended congestion charge zone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Horray for common sense. Now if the same could be done with LB Barnet, who have discontinued all their parking meters. Now you need to have a mobile phone and a pre-registered credit / debit card so that you can ring their offices to pay.

    Alternatively you can purchase a scratchcard from a shop, but 'strangers' to the area would not know about either method until after they have arrived.



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