West End parking charges plan to be scrapped


Controversial plans to introduce evening and weekend parking charges in London’s West End are to be scrapped, it has been announced.

Westminster City Council leader Colin Barrow, who is stepping down in March, will ask chief executive Mike More to write a report to withdraw the planned changes to the parking charges, a council spokesman said.

The plan to introduce charges for parking where it had previously been free had drawn criticism from local businesses, politicians and actors. But Barrow insisted his decision to stand down was unrelated to the failed plans to introduce the new charges to the West End.

The parking charges had been put on hold until after the Olympic Games by a High Court judge, but they will now be scrapped altogether.

“We have listened to Londoners in the interests of the wider economy and will scrap the charging plans,” Barrow said.

“We need to think long and hard about how we manage traffic in the West End to allow people to go about their business, but it’s clear that these specific proposals did not command public support.

“I also felt after reflecting on this issue, that it was right to act swiftly rather than wait for the election of a new council leader in order to provide clarity for the future.”

More will also be asked to bring forward plans to set up a commission to look at the best way the council can reduce congestion, support business and improve the quality of life for residents of the West End.

The council’s cabinet member for transportation and parking, Lee Rowley, said: “We will think radically about how we manage traffic in the West End in the future. Our commission will consider all credible strategies for managing traffic and we’ll reset our parking policies to focus on common-sense measures that are fair but encourage people to keep to the rules.”

Barrow will step down at the council’s annual budget meeting on March 7 and will be replaced by a new leader elected by the majority party.

Last week, Barrow said it would be “too easy” for people to believe he was quitting over the parking row.

He said: “There is never a right or easy time to depart, and it is inevitable that people will ascribe my decision to the parking controversy.

“To the contrary, part of my reasoning for deferring this announcement until now was because I was determined to see that through. It would have been only too easy to leave that one for my successor.”