Westminster City Council leader Colin Barrow calls his free parking space indefensible

Colin Barrow

Colin Barrow

All this week London talk radio station LBC 97.3′s has been debating Westminster City Council’s planned introduction of Sunday and weekday evening parking charges on the morning Nick Ferrari show. Alongside the show LBC have conducted an on-line survey asking the question: Should the Planned evening and weekend parking charges in Westminster be introduced?

On this mornings show Ferrari revealed that 98% of respondents had voted against Westminster City Councils new extended parking hours. Ferrari said he couldn’t remember a poll which has had such a devastating or huge swing.

With Nick Ferrari on the morning show was Colin Barrow, the leader of Westminster City Council and Martin Low, who was given the title of director of transportation for Westminster Council.

In the preamble before taking callers Barrow helped justify the extended hours by listing a number of other city’s which already have evening charges saying “Unusually Westminster leads, but we follow Manchester, Worchester, Birmingham, Aberdeen, York, Bristol, Stoke, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Vienna in having evening and weekend parking controls”.

We have listed the hours of parking controls for each of the UK councils Barrow mentioned:

Manchester: on-street parking operates in the city centre between 8:00-20:00 Monday-Sunday.

Worchester: You cannot park on a single yellow line between 8 am and 6 pm, Monday to Saturday.

Birmingham: The charging hours in the Inner Zone are between 8:00am and 7:30pm every day.

Aberdeen: Charges apply from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 1pm to 5pm Sunday.

York: Charges apply every day from 8.00am until midnight.

Bristol: 24/7 in central zones

Stoke: Evening car parking charges were introduced on 1 April 2010 There is a fixed charge of £1 between the hours of 6pm and 7am.

Westminster Council: Will extend hours of control in central London from 18:30 to midnight, Monday – Saturday, and from 13:00 to 18:00 on Sundays

Callers were invited to contact LBC to question the pair, Judy from Belsize Park asked if either Barrow or Low had a car and where they parked.

Mr Low said he had a car and uses it to come into Westminster at the weekends and he pays to park using the pay-by-phone system which he finds very good. He went on to say that he came to work using public transport most days and will only use a car when it was appropriate to do so, and would be very happy to continue to pay the city council for the parking privilege. He later added that he had given up his parking space to be converted into a cycle bay.

Colin Barrow said that if he was out in the evenings and going to the west end he would go by tube, car or taxi, he added “if I’m drinking I go by taxi, which is most of the time.”

Judy pressed Barrow further asking“Are you telling me seriously that you don’t have any private parking made available to you?”

Barrow replied, “No, I don’t have any private parking bay.”

Judy “You don’t have any parking at City Hall available to you?”

Barrow, “Oh I’m sorry, no you’re quite right, I don’t use it very often I do have a parking space at city hall, I don’t use it very often, I travel by tube 95% of the time.”

Nick Ferrari asked Barrow “What’s in your parking bay at the moment at city hall?”

Barrow “Nothing at all.”

Ferrari “So there’s just an empty space sitting there, good use of council space?”

Barrow “No it isn’t, we could probably sell it off, and become a sold off car park.”.

Ferrari “Shall we do that then?”

Barrow “I don’t know, it’s just a system that I’ve inherited, I could have taken the trouble to abolish it, sorry I didn’t.

Ferrari “What do you think you’ll do about that now then?”

Barrow “Umm err but um.”

Ferrari “There’s an empty bay sitting in the heart of Westminster with no car in it, meanwhile we’re charging people, mums who want to come in and go into the theatre, people who want to go to church, whatever else it might be and you’ve got an empty bay. Does that strike you as correct councillor?”

Barrow “No, no it’s not defensible.”

Colin Barrow was elected to Westminster City Council in 2002 and holds a free borough wide parking permit allowing him to park anywhere in Westminster if on council business.

An online petition asking for a full council meeting continues to grow with 1,646 signatories at the time of writing. (view petition here )

An early day motion which calls for the council to reverse its decision on extended parking which will penalise low paid workers who work in Westminster has had little support from MPs so far.

The MP for Westminster south Mark Field  said “I shall not be signing the EDM as I observe the democratic line between what I have been elected for and what local councillors have been elected for.”

The MP for Westminster north Karen Buck has not yet replied to us.


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