WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Massive parking charge hike for diesel vehicles across Westminster planned

West End hourly rate will leap from £4.90 to £7.35 an hour

03 August, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Pilot scheme has reduced pollution, says council 

A FIFTY per cent rise in parking charges for diesel vehicles is set to be introduced across Westminster.

A consultation has opened on council plans to expand its higher hourly charges trial in Marylebone to the entire borough.

The idea is to discourage drivers of the most polluting cars from coming to Westminster – by raising parking charges by 50 per cent.

If approved, the expansion of the “surcharge” scheme could begin as early as next year.

The council’s environment chief, Cllr Tim Mitchell, said: “Our experience in Marylebone proves that the diesel parking surcharge works to improve air quality by reducing the number of journeys made by polluting diesel cars.

“Residents tell us that air quality is their number one concern, which is why we want to roll out this change across Westminster so that all communities can benefit.

“We welcome views from everybody as part of this consultation. However, we are absolutely committed to taking steps to improve air quality in Westminster and we hope to get a clear endorsement from local people as to how far they would like us to go with these plans.”

Westminster Council trialled the extra parking charges in “parking zone F” – Marylebone and Fitzrovia – and is claiming that the scheme has reduced the number of older diesel vehicles in the area by 16 per cent. The consultation on whether to expand to all of Westminster is open until September 12. It is also asking whether all pre-2006 petrol vehicles should have to pay and whether the rise should be 50 per cent.

In Harrow Road, Queen’s Park and Maida Vale, parking charges for polluting vehicles would go up to around £2.55 an hour. In the West End it would jump from around £4.90 to £7.35 an hour. The council insists that last year there were 3.7million “diesel parking transactions” in Westminster. If the Marylebone 16 per cent was replicated across the borough, this would mean 270,000 fewer transactions.

The change – while doing no harm to air pollution – would also bring about a huge cash windfall for the council.

Freedom of Information request figures found that in comparatively quiet Islington, the council netted £600,000 in three months after it introduced a similar tax.

Islington’s environment chief, Cllr Claudia Webbe, told the Extra’s sister paper, Islington Tribune, that its £2-an-hour diesel vehicle parking surcharge was “entirely about air pollution, it was nothing to do with income at all”.

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