Congregations will be decimated say Central London Churches

St. Georges Church

After Westminster Council published their plans yesterday to go ahead with the introduction of Sunday parking charges, Michael Beckett the Church Warden of St. George’s Hanover Square has written to Councillor Lee Rowley to express the churches dismay at the proposed charges. In his letter to Cllr Rowley he says “We must place on record our complete dismay at the proposals as published. The Council has either not been listening, or failed to understand the arguments we have put forward over the past three weeks.”

Mr Beckett goes on to say “A 12 Noon start for parking charges on a Sunday is of no use to ANY of the churches in the West End. Most main Sunday services start at 11am and finish around 12:15 to 12:30pm. Anyone who parks on a singe yellow line at 10.45 prior to a service will have a ticket on their windscreen (£100) when the service ends.”

The Church collective is also requesting that Councillor Rowley delays his decision to allow for a statutory consultation process which the Council at present wish to do only after they have brought in the new parking charges. Mr Bekett said “it is planed to bring them in via an experimental traffic order (ETO) which although it does involve a statutory consultation process, such process will only take place after the introduction of the new charges. We the churches in Central Westminster will be the “Guinea pigs” for this experiment, during which time our congregations will be decimated.”

If it’s just about traffic management can we have the money?

The Council have always said when bringing in an ever increasing number of parking charges that it was not for raising revenue but simply to manage traffic flow. As the Council have said in the cabinet report published yesterday that after set up costs for implementing the new charges they would expect to make between £4m – £7m, Mr Bekett has asked Councillor Rowley if the churches can have the profit. “May the Churches in Westminster therefore call upon Westminster Council to donate the profit of circ £0.5m to £2m for the Sunday parking element after costs, to Churches in Westminster towards their social mission within the city? This would confirm the non-revenue raising basis which Sunday charges are being introduced.”

Sadly the Council may come out with their stock answer, not quite worded like this, any money raised from parking charges will be used in the wider transport budget emphasising it will go in part for pensioners Freedom passes. But most of it will end up in the hands of the Councils two main parking subcontractors, Verrus and NSL Services to pay for signs, enforcement and operating costs. Those companies shareholders need bus passes as well you see.

Westminster Churches have instructed legal council and are investigating ways to challenge the Council on their parking proposals.

We think the Churches may have a case regarding the social exclusion aspect of the extended charging hours. Westminster Council is the only Council in the UK to have gone entirely into cashless parking. So far they have kept a legal challenge being brought against them from car drivers by offering a £2 scratch card for those motorists who do not have either a mobile phone or credit card. The scratch card is the only way those with cash can pay to park on Westminster’s streets.

With the introduction of the extended parking charges it is conceivable that a member of the Churches congregation will be unable to purchase a scratch card at 6pm on a Sunday night. This is socially exclusive and is the one thing we think may force the Council to re-think their plans.

A member of Nutsville will shortly be having a meeting with a leading Church campaign member to explain how this maybe achieved.

Campaign website updated each day

Stop Westminster’s Sunday Parking Charges Facebook Page


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Londen JelmerAugust 25th, 2011 at 6:26 am

This is what I suggest they do: start charging after 13:00pm.. It’s only 1 hour later and you don’t have to frustrate the church goers.

DavidSeptember 28th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

The charges shouldn’t be introduced at all. A so-called Conservative Council should be reducing its spend and freezing if not reducing tax. If they’re going to behave like anti-car gold plated socialists, led by the nose, like cattle, by their civil servants, the people of Westminster would be better electing the genuine article: at least Red Ken reduced Tube fares when he clobbered the motorist. This measure quite clearly discriminates against Christians who wish to exercise their religion – of the state as it happens. How can churches be expected to continue to try to do their bit to keep society on the straight and narrow – and thereby save the council expenditure on their PC anti-social behaviour budget – if they are going to have the rug pulled out from under them like this?

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