Just how safe are Westminster’s car parks?

 

After the dissention thrown up from Westminster City Council’s proposed extended Sunday and weekday night parking enforcement hours, the council issued a press release in December 2011 titled “West End night workers can now park safely all night for 64p per hour“ (download here ) This seemed to be a bit of council spin designed to offset fears voiced by women motorists who could not afford the councils proposed new parking charges when having finished a late night shift would need to walk miles back to their cars parked in one of the boroughs free night time zones.

After the council leased off all their remaining car parks to private car park operator q-park the press release explained that the council had done a deal with the new car park operators. They were to offer a limited number of reduced rate parking spaces in the underground car parks to vulnerable night workers. Cllr Lee Rowley Cabinet member for spin, illusion, misdirection and all other parking related headaches said “Using casino workers as an example of the night workers we have been keen to engage with, they can get to a safe car park within a five minute walk of work and, if parked all night, they could do so for 64p an hour.“

Nutsville visited one of the most central car parks in Cavendish Square just off Oxford Street at lunchtime today. We were surprised that the safety of these car parks is questionable, after we spotted what at first glance looked to be a pile of old clothes.

 

Oxford Street underground car park whats that on the left

Oxford Street underground car park whats that on the left?

On closer inspection it turned out to be a human being, probably a rough sleeper judging by the use of cardboard packaging to keep the cold from the concrete floor at bay.

 

Rough sleeper

Rough sleeper

We could not find any Q-park staff anywhere, we were on our own. Perhaps now that the car parks are privately run the new operators have had to make cut backs to keep a keen eye on profits.

 

What if this had been at 3am and we had been a single lone woman, would you be happy to trust a politician’s word that car parks he has no day to day control of are safe?  Perhaps Mr Rowley can spin this to say it’s part of Westminster Councils new housing policy, and the extra bodies sleeping in the car parks are more eyes and ears to help put woman at their ease.

 

This is not the first time that recently leased off council car parks have become hotels for the dispossessed. As in 2010 the Clipstone Street car park which was once council run and now leased to Titan, became a free hotel to pedicab riders. A large area of that car park has been sub let to the rickshaw trade. For a while not only was it a place for the rickshaw riders to park their bikes but also a growing shanty town and cheap hotel as impoverished riders would bed down for the night on the back seat of their rickshaws.

 

rickshaw hotel

rickshaw hotel

Don’t you just feel so safe, simply because Rowley says it is?  After all before Rowley became a politician he was an estate agent, and you can’t get two more highly respected careers than that, can you.

titan car parks warning hotel notice

titan car parks warning hotel notice

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5 Comments

Kill SwitchJanuary 10th, 2012 at 5:06 pm

This is no place for a lone woman to be at 3am, get a grip Rowley; you’re delusional if you consider this safe.

MikeJanuary 11th, 2012 at 11:44 am

There’s also something of a reverse security issue, too, at least at some of the Q-Park run (WCC) car parks, following the installation of security gates across the entrances. A large notice advises car drivers to approach, slowly, and the gates will automatically open, to let them in.

However, what about someone, on foot, who is trying to get back to a vehicle that’s already in the car park (other than the person who holds the parking ticket)? Merely *walking* up to the gates does not seem to have any effect!! You cannot enter the pedestrian entrance, as you have no ticket, and you can’t enter through the security gates, and there’s not usually anyone at the ‘office’ (as they have to go out on patrols), so you end up having to stand around outside, either waiting for a vehicle to come out or go in, and have to “tailgate”, or similar, waiting for someone else walking out! [Which, in itself, negates the 'security'.]

The same applies to motorcycle riders (or bicycle riders), who park but do not require a parking ticket – they have to wait around outside the gates / pedestrian exit, waiting on the off chance that someone else will be accessing or exiting the car park, hopefully in a short time, and then have to, in effect, ‘sneak’ in – causing them a degree of frustration.

Mark SaundersJanuary 11th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Muggers and rapists, please form an orderly line outside the car parks which you now know that your victims will have to go to.

MichaelMarch 4th, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I felt saddened when i saw the picture of that rough sleeper. Its sad to know that there are homeless people out there who dont have shelter.

SARAHNovember 10th, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I THINK IT IS AN ABSOLUTE DISGRACE THAT YOU CANT FIND THE MONEY TO KEEP THESE PEOPLE SAFE N WARM AND HEAD FOR A BETTER LIFE…..HOW YOU CAN SAY IT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE TO PUT VULNERABLE PEOPLE AT RISK IS BEYOND ME ….YOU ARE A DISGRACEFUL GOVERNMENT TRY LOOKING AFTER YOUR OWN BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE…..WHEN SOMEONE IS RAPED, BEATEN OR MURDERED ON YOUR CONCIOUS SO BE IT……

I DONT KNOW HOW YOU CAN SLEEP AT NIGHT
GOD FORBID U OR A MEMBER SHALL FALL INTO THIS SAME VULNERABLE CATEGORY

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