Parking charge rises in Westminster have left residents feeling 'ignored'

Aerial view of car parking lot of the airport. Used luxury car for sale and rental service. Automobile parking space. Car dealership concept.
Westminster City council introduced new parking charges on April 8 -Credit:Getty Images

A Central London council has been accused of ignoring residents after hiking parking charges. Westminster Conservatives said the borough’s Labour-run administration introduced the hikes just days before the results from a public consultation was released.

The survey showed 91.9 per cent of respondents expressed concerns or opposed the plans while only 4 per cent said they were “largely supportive” of them. Cllr Ed Pitt Ford, minority group lead for sustainable transport, accused Westminster City Council of ignoring respondents.

The Pimlico North cllr said: “The Labour administration argued that this is not a referendum on parking charges; I would argue that when you are ignoring 90 per cent of people responding, this is no longer a democracy!”

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Westminster City Council offices on Victoria Street.
Westminster City Council said the increase was 'virtually nominal' -Credit:Google

Tim Barnes, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Cities of London and Westminster, said: “If you ask people and nine out of ten say don’t do it, you shouldn’t just do it anyway. Labour put the prices up before the consultation results came out to try and hide from listening to what local people had to say”.

Westminster City Council said the new scheme will support the growth of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in the borough while keeping charges fair, proportionate, and as low as possible. MyLondon understands the council described the previous EV charging scheme, which started at 8p, as "unsustainable".

Opposition councillors have previously accused the council of hiking charges on EVs by almost 1,800 per cent. Previous reporting by MyLondon shows prices will jump to £1.46 an hour.

In a report, the council said cheapest charges in each of Westminster’s parking zones will be lower than those charges by surrounding local authorities. They said for pay-to-park charges on EV and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the increase is “virtually nominal” citing charges of 8p an hour in Paddington to 24p an hour in the West End.

Among the changes is a new charge for resident permits on EVs, which were previously exempt. The council is also dropping the number of vehicles covered by a residents’ permit from two to one meaning residents will now have to pay £50 to register a second vehicle and an additional £100 to register a third.

One in four said the new charges would make it less likely they would have an electric vehicle.

Some 29 per cent of respondents cited the proposals were about raising revenue rather than protecting the environment while just over 14 per cent said they felt “cheated / betrayed” by the council after switching to an EV to avoid parking charges, only to have that taken away.

Another 14 per cent didn’t understand why the charges were being introduced if EV produced zero CO2 emissions. In some good news for the council, only 5.6 per cent felt the changes were being introduced “too soon”.

The council has acknowledged the charges would impact low-income groups.

A Westminster City Council spokesperson said: “To meet our Net Zero commitments and to keep up with the increasing demand for EVs, the council has moved to an emissions-based charging system for parking. The new scheme will support the growth of electric vehicles in the city while keeping charges fair, proportionate, and as low as possible.

“The council consulted extensively on the proposed changes to parking charges, including a direct maildrop to all 30,820 resident permit holders, and notifications via the RingGo pay-to-park app. Under the new scheme, the cost of parking an EV in Westminster will remain much lower than driving a diesel or petrol car.”

Cabinet member for city management and air quality Paul Dimoldenberg said: “We treat residents’ comments very seriously and we have written to every person who gave their views with individual responses to the points they made. Just around 1% of the 30,000 residents parking permit holders responded to the consultation to object to the new charges.

“Despite the increased charges, EV drivers still pay some of the lowest charges to park their car than in neighbouring boroughs, so the incentive to chose an EV car remains.” MyLondon approached Labour for a response but they were unable to provide a comment. The new pricing started on April 8 - four days before the results of the consultation were released on April 12.

The public consultation ran from January 15 to February 14 and received responses from 371 individuals or groups, which MyLondon understands represents just 1 per cent of all permit holders. A report by the council says the borough has some of the highest carbon emissions and worst air quality of any national local authority.

The “emissions-based” charging, which will be banded according to a car’s CO2 emissions, target pay-to-park casual kerbside parking and residents’ parking permits, which the council said it hopes will encourage people to buy EVs. It said the scheme aims to encourage those who park regularly in the borough to rethink how they use their vehicles.

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