What’s Westminster Council’s leader going to tell the Boris Johnson bandwagon?

At last nights (2nd November) full Westminster City Council meeting held at the Old Marylebone Town Hall Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group presented the largest petition the Council had ever received. Cllr Dimoldenberg handed in a printed version of the on-line petition containing 7,761 signatures of people opposed to Westminster City Council’s planned evening and Sunday parking charges. At the time of writing this, the on-line petition has reached a staggering 8600 signatures (view here ).

Hugh Brennan

Get on the bus Hugh Brennan

But if Hugh Brennan the councils Principal Transport Planner has anything to do with the petition, its already been shredded. Because when we asked him about the 4000 signature petition opposed to the motorcycle parking tax he dismissed the whole petition on the grounds that a campaign group was behind it. Quite how anyone can organise a petition with thousands of signatures on it without some sort of a campaign group is beyond us. ( Download sound clip here )

After the petitions were handed in the council got down to business with a question and answer session between the councillors.  One of the earliest questions by Cllr Dimoldenberg put to the leader of the Council Cllr Barrow was this “To the Leader of the Council, when he and the rest of the Cabinet made the original decision on the 1st August to introduce West End evening and Sunday parking charges to start in early December, to use his words a ‘sacred task’, when did he and his colleagues realise that this year Christmas day would fall on the 25th of December and that a December start would hit Christmas trade?”

Cllr Barrow’s reply was like 32% of his replies in that 3% of it consisted of statistics. Quoting unsupportable statistics just happens to be one of the points causing his Council to now face another High Court challenge over its parking service, said to be the largest case of its kind.

Barrows defence of the new parking tax was so predictably dreary and uncompromising it seems he managed to send one of his own Tory backbenchers, off to sleep. But like many councillors, Councillor Andrew Havery does have a full time job, so can be forgiven for briefly nodding off.

Cllr Barrow, let us prey, I’m sacred don’t ya know!

After further questioning from Cllr Dimoldenberg, Barrow attacked former Mayor Ken Livingston for being keen to whip up controversy over the parking charges and jumping on the bandwagon.

A very odd thing for Cllr Barrow to say because in today’s Evening Standard it’s reported that the current Mayor of London Boris Johnson states he warned Barrow “months and months ago” that the extended parking charges were a bad idea. Johnson goes on to accuse the Council of adding a tax on nightlife and urges Barrow to review his decision. So what will the mendacious Cllr Barrow be calling Boris Johnson or anyone of the thousands of people jumping on what by any stretch of the imagination must be a rather over laden bandwagon?

Cllr Barrow’s position as Council leader is becoming untenable as he faces in the months ahead one embarrassing revelation after another pointing out his incompetence and mismanagement of not only the parking department, but his very own brainchild the supposedly money making Westminster Council wholly owned comms company WestCo Trading.  But the killer blow for Barrow’s crumbling empire could be the ongoing investigation into the suspect funding of City West Homes. Did someone say gerrymandering anyone!

But Barrows most pressing of problems is his parking department for which he appointed apprentice politician, Cllr Lee Rowley. We remind readers of the not so secret internal report council officers received in December 2009, one whole month before the Council started their sham parking review. Officers were asked to go away and look at ways of raising new revenue and report back on the 18th January which was the date of the next cabinet meeting. The January cabinet report clearly spells out to officers how dire the parking department finances are:

At the December Cabinet meeting, officers were asked to go away and look more closely at Parking and Community Safety to find further reductions (or additional income).

Rosemarie Macqueen 'where did I park my car'

Rosemarie Macqueen 'where did I park my car'

The Present Overspend Position – The Council had planned to support the 2009/10 budget with the use of £11m of reserves. At the present time given the issues around parking, and despite the staunching measures being undertaken, the Council will overspend by £22m – an £11m increase over the original forecast.

So how lucky it must have been for Cllr Rowley that his officers led by Rosemarie McQueen was able to come up with 200 pages of ‘evidence’ to help fill that financial black hole. If this evidence is so robust why is the Cabinet member for dumb decisions and parking not willing to justify any of the media bilge he keeps repeating by providing some hard facts.

Perhaps it’s no wonder that in Westminster today we see the bizarre sight of Boris Johnson and Colin Barrow driving around the West End desperately looking for a place to park.

I say old chap, do you know where we can park round here?

I say old chap, do you know where we can park round here?

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2 Comments

NoToMobNovember 8th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Westminster’s parking charge rises challenged in High Court

A High Court challenge has been launched against Westminster City Council’s plan to extend West End parking charges into the evening and to introduce parking charges on Sundays.

The call for a Judicial Review of the proposals has been organised by a disparate group, which includes chefs, actors and night-time workers employed throughout the West End. The action is being described the biggest legal challenge of its kind.

See http://www.transportxtra.com/magazines/parking_review/news/?id=28717

BruceNovember 9th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Who is the guy lolling about in the back row wearing the poppy? Barrow really has his attention! :-D

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