A series of arguments against the Westminster Parking charges for motorcycles

1) The existing payment scheme is discriminatory against some Motorcycle users who don't have a credit card or easy access to a phone, cellphone or internet.

There are people who choose not to own a mobile phone and/or don't have a credit or debit card. Equally, there are people who object to giving address and credit card information to the council, particularly given the recent track record for losing personal information. So how do they pay? In addition it may be unlawful for them to require methods of payment that may not be an option for everyone who wants to use their facility. It appears that prepaid scratch cards may be available. It may also be possible to pay at Westminster car parks. But the story from Westminster keeps changing. The consultation document states "As part of the tender specification, all tenderers have been asked to provide and are being evaluated against robust strategies on how to address the social exclusion issue. " but this has not been done.

2) Motorcycles produce less pollution and congestion than cars

The use of motorcycles is one of the only ways to reduce congestion and pollution in Central London and this is why it is highly supported by the Mayor and Government. The introduction of motorcycle parking charges discourages the use of bikes in Central London, which goes against the Mayor and Government policy to reduce congestion and pollution.

3) Lack of security devices when that's the main justification for the money raised by the scheme.

Westminster trialled security devices prior to the introduction of the scheme that were obviously never going to work unless every biker carried round several metres of chain. They've since given up on this and are trialling an alternative in a small number of bays in residential areas in Westbourne grove. However, Westminster cannot tell us where this new trial is happening and nobody has seen it. So if they're not spending the money on rolling out security, what's the justification for the payment scheme?

4) Payment with no guarantee of being able to find a space.

The scheme encourages you to pay in the morning before leaving for a daily pass. Or for a long term payment such as weekly, monthly or yearly. But there's no guarantee of being able to find a space. This must be a first in that they've created a product that you have pay for regardless of whether that product can be delivered. It's really more like an insurance scheme. Buying the product protects you from the danger of getting a fine, providing you park legally. In fact its even more like a Protection racket. Pay us or we'll ticket and ultimately remove your bike.

5) The scheme is a trial. However there is no information on the signs about how to comment.

The initial notices advising of the comming trial provided information on how to provide comments about the trial. When the full signs went up these were removed. So while the council says there will be a consultation period they have not advertised exactly how the general public can make their views known.

6) What are the actual running costs and what is profit spent on?

The meeting that approved the scheme ear-marked approx £985K for the scheme. Their website now says this. What is the cost breakdown for introducing the new bays? As of 18th August 2008, Westminster has spent £242,234. £16,352 has been spent on the Traffic Management Orders, £6,714 in the car parks and £219,168 has been spent on street. What are the overall projections on income that the council believes it will receive from the new scheme? It is anticipated to generate £675K gross and £261K net once operating costs are taken out. The traffic management orders under which this scheme run say that profit must be spent on traffic and not simply added to the coffers. So. How do Westminster intend to spend the remaining £700K? How do they intend to spend the £261k per year profit?

7) Misleading information about available space.

The usage of parking bays varies widely across the borough. It appears that usage of bays has dropped as people choose not to ride their motorcycle into Westminster. Any occupancy survey during the trial is now likely to be held during the winter when motorcycle use drops anyway. So it's highly likely that the survey will show that there are now sufficient spaces. This is hugely deceptive. Areas such as St James Square were overloaded before and still are. There are also question marks about how Westminster measure available space since they and we probably don't agree on how many bikes can be forced into X metres of bay.

8) Fines are disproportionate

The typical cost of parking a car is £1 to £4 per hour. The fine for parking a car illegally is £40/£80. The typical cost of parking a motorcycle is £0.50 per day to £1.50 per day. And yet the fines are the same £40/£80. This exposes that the real revenue from the scheme is not from the parking charge but from the increased fines.

9) Residents permits are unworkable

It is possible to obtain a residents permit for a motorcycle which allows unlimited parking in residents car bays (not solo motorcycle bays) within a single zone. However although you can register a car and a motorcycle, you can only park one of them in a residents bay at a time. There have been promises of a reduced yearly charge for a normal parking permit for residents but this has not materialised.

10) Saturday parking charges

The report on the scheme said "The parking charge will be required for controlled hours only (08:30 - 18:30 Monday to Friday)." And yet when the scheme was introduced it was 08:30 - 18:30 Monday to Saturday. This affects business in Westminster since it discourages coming into Westminster on a shopping day rather than a work day. It should be pointed out that this scheme is a disincentive to travel into Westminster for whatever reason for motorcyclists. This will then have a knock on effect on business and work in the area.

11) The council has failed to follow its own decision on a robust communications policy

There are several references to a recognition that this scheme is contentious and will require a "robust communcations policy" to explain the scheme to motorcyclists. This has manifestly failed. There is much anecdotal evidence of people receiving multiple tickets because they simply didn't know about the scheme.

12) The spread of motorcycle parking charge schemes to other boroughs and cities.

If Westminster's scheme goes ahead, then it is very likely that other boroughs will follow suit. Since there is no overall strategy or control over London in this area this will lead to each council developing its own scheme and methods of payment. This then will make attempting to pay a complete nightmare for the genral public. Particularly if you have to stop in multiple boroughs during the day.

See Also two documents from the council.


Westminster Parking

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[ 15-Oct-08 1:38pm ] [ ]