Council ‘cash cow’ – Westminster’s parking charges exposed

The Evening Standard editorial on Friday highlights Westminster Council’s continued use of its massive parking revenues to subsidise services;

“Council cash cow

Westminster council has long relied on money from parking charges and fines as a major source of income, indirectly funding things such as its very low council tax. But new figures published suggest the true extent of this pattern: Labour says that the borough rakes in five times as much in charges and fines per household than other boroughs — more than £637 each in 2011/12. The average for the other 19 London boroughs surveyed was just £121; Kensington and Chelsea charged nearly £500.

Labour’s claim that the average for Conservative councils is higher than that for Labour ones means little: there are far more people visiting Westminster than, say, Labour-controlled Barking and Dagenham. What is certainly true is that Westminster treats parking as a cash cow to an extent unequalled elsewhere. This bends the borough’s policies out of shape, resulting in absurdities such as the council’s 2011 attempt to impose evening and weekend charges on single-yellow lines. We need parking controls to avoid anarchy on central London’s roads. But Westminster should not milk its cash cow in this way.”

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