There has been a lot of attention on Wonga and their sky high interest rates recently. But a little closer to home our very own Westminster Council is operating its own residents’ parking ‘scam’ which is increasing the cost of living for so many people.
Over 90% of Westminster car owners will be hit by a 22.6% increase in the cost of their residents’ parking permits as the Council imposes a 6.5% inflation increase, plus a further increase as the Council scraps the current discount for on-line applications.
The cost of an on-line parking permit is currently £115 a year (and £132 for applications in person) and over 90% of car owners apply on line. The cost of a residents’ parking permit increased by £19 to £134 on 1st July 2013 and by a full £26 a year to £141 on 1st July 2014.
The Council say that the price increase and on-line discount abolition will raise over £1.4 million extra for the Council;
“the phased removal of the online discount over 2 years would potentially result in an additional £672,000 in income. Assuming that the number of permits remains unchanged, the effect of the inflationary increase in permit prices will potentially result in income increasing in the region of £439,000 in the financial year 2013/14 and £742,000 in 2014/15.”
Penalising residents who pay on-line by scrapping the current discount is poor customer service and akin to the sharp practice employed by some of the much-criticised budget airlines.
Now that the Council has closed down all its One Stop Shops residents have little choice to pay on line or join the long queues at the post offices. Scrapping the on-line discount simply makes more money for the Council at residents’ expense.
So why are the Conservatives upping the cost of living for residents?
The answer is very simple. Westminster City Council has spent over £3m in six months paying for people waiting for permanent housing to be put up in hotels. Following the Government’s notorious Housing Benefit changes, the Council has had the most families in long-term bed and breakfast accommodation in London and has had to resort to more expensive hotels to cope. And in the first nine months of 2012, more than £2m was spent accommodating people in four-star hotels.
The Council is seriously over-spent on its housing budget because of the Government changes and now residents are picking up the bill with higher parking charges. It is outrageous that residents should have to pay so much more because of the Government’s financial incompetence.
But sadly this is not the first or last cost of living increase planned by the Conservatives. Earlier this year the Council increased rents by an inflation-busting 3.88% which will add over £227 a year to the average residents’ outgoings. And there are more price rises on the way.
Westminster Council might not be Wonga but it is doing a good imitation.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council