Westminster brings in new Sunday parking charges

Pay and display machine
Image caption The new charges will operate until midnight Monday to Saturday, and 13:00 to 18:00 on Sundays

Westminster City Council is to introduce parking charges on weekday evenings and Sunday afternoons to parts of central London.

The Conservative-run administration has voted to bring in the fees despite opposition from churches who fear this will reduce their congregations.

They also claim many church-run community projects will be affected.

The council said the new parking rules were good for residents, businesses and visitors.

The new charges will operate until midnight Monday to Saturday, and 13:00 to 18:00 on Sundays. The cost of parking ranges from £2.20 to £4.40 for an hour.

The council said the policy addressed a number of complex issues, including managing the traffic demands of the West End, the availability of resident and visitor parking, and improving loading and waiting facilities.

Huge loss

Councillor Lee Rowley said: "While I recognise that parking controls are not popular, research shows that in some parts of the West End it is now more difficult to park on a Sunday and on weekday evenings than it is during the working week.

"These new policies will mean our residents will be able to park near their homes, businesses can continue to deliver goods, and visitors can have a realistic expectation that they will be able to park when coming into the city."

But churches in the affected areas said many families and older people would not be able to afford to go to church if the charges were approved.

They claimed dozens of community projects, including support for the homeless, activities for elderly people, subsidised meals for the local community, and activities for children and young people, would be affected.

Last month, Father William Pearsall, from Farm Street Catholic church, Mayfair, said: "Our volunteer community activities are really valuable and would present a huge loss to the local community if these plans affect our volunteers."

Michael Beckett, Church Warden of St George's in Hanover Square, said: "Sunday parking charges will seriously damage the spiritual heart of the city, and limit the good works undertaken by all the central London churches".

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