End for Westminster Council's West End parking charges

  • 18 January 2012
  • From the section London
  • comments
Image caption 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.

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