Boris and Ken agree at last – shamefully

Don’t you just love to hate Westminster Council?  Britain’s richest council which gave us the Lady Porter gerrymandering scandal has always been so naked in its greed that its almost impossible not to admire their honesty.

The latest shenanigan is, of course, the council’s intention to start imposing parking restrictions in the evenings and sundays which has got everyone with a swanky car or a Jeremy Clarkson book on their shelf up in arms. All the usual suspects are hurling abuse at the hapless councillors, using the same old canards about how it will hurt the poor (ignoring the fact that the poor don’t own cars) and destroy businesses (ignoring the fact that very few people use cars going into central London). We have heard it all before in relation to the congestion charge. For some reason, it is seen as particularly shocking that churchgoers will be charged which seem to suggest that Christians should be exempt from paying their way.

The truth of course is that any sensible Londoner never drives into the centre town, whatever the hour. Its a nightmare and London is blessed with fab public transport, night buses and for the wealthy taxis – and minicabs for the slightly less wealthy. So the Westminster move is to be applauded. Anything that reduces the number of cars coming into central London is to be welcomed. Far from suffering, the improvement in the environment will be good for business.

However, for Westminster to claim that charging £4 80 per hour, virtually the minimum wage  to park a car during the evening and on sundays is because the councillors are worried about congestion in central London is just one big Porkie Pie. This was, after all, a council that opposed the congetion charge, lobbied for the scrapping of the extension and has merrily pocketed millions of parking income while paying no concern about improving public transport in its area or of pedestrianising Oxford Street. The word hypocrisy is simply inadequate to describe what they are doing given a secret memo gave away the true reason – to fill a £7m gap in the council’s budget.

While it was to be expected that petrolhead Boris would oppose the move, for Ken Livingstone to do so is quite shameful and I suspect won’t win him a single vote. Yes, of course they are being imposed for the wrong reason, but they make sense in terms of the London environment

  • I think the basic problem is that driving remains the least bad option for many people in Britain. After years of building roads which accommodate private motor vehicles above all else have encouraged many people to drive for a huge percentage of journeys, the answer seems to be seen as charging those same people a lot to park their cars. These are both crazy policies.

    In the same way as the price of petrol has very little to do with the choices that people make about transport, so it is with parking fees. If driving is still seen as the least bad option, people will still drive. They will also complain a lot about being ripped off for doing so.

    I live these days in a city which has the cheapest car-parking in the Netherlands. Despite this, this is also a city in which more than 40% of journeys are by bike. Why ? Cycling has been attractive and convenient, therefore people don’t have to be discouraged strongly from driving but willingly make a positive choice to cycle. Not only does this result in a reduction of all the problems caused by motor vehicles in cities, but it also results in a population who are not complaining about being ripped off.

    The problem with London is that things simply haven’t been thought through and planned properly so that driving is no longer the least bad option. Driving there is indeed awful – but other alternatives are no better and often worse.

  • Mike

    You say London has got “fab” public transport, but if that were really true, why would so many people still want to use their cars?

    To many of us, this latest raid on motorists just looks like a cash grab by a greedy council that can’t balance its books.

  • Anonymous

    Ooops – I must confess to owning one or two Jeremy Clarkson books, even though all regulars know I am pro-rail. 

    Admittedly I have been going off both him and Top Gear for a couple years now owing to his ever more damaging and downright offensive and insulting shenanigans.

    Happy New Year to Christian and the regulars!