Record depths reached in push to be Britain’s top ‘Robber Baron’ or just a new cut in ‘free’ parking, or could this be good news for bike parking tax opponents?…Posted: 21st January 2010 | 8 Comments »
I am rarely surprised by the depths that a desperate politician will plunge to, while trying to justify action that stinks. In my experience this often happens when a plan for a government move is being pushed that is nothing more than state backed extortion or highway robbery – and that looks to most law abiding citizens like the acts of a robber baron rather than a servant of the people.
But as you can see by the expression on Cllr Chalkley’s face, even he is struggling to make it look straight as he tries to deny that his council’s latest plan to end ‘free’ parking in London’s West End and throughout Westminster, is just a new way to screw more cash from riders of motorcycles and scooters and motorists.
On the face of it this latest plan by WCC may seem like very bad news. In essence it is to put parking charges up again and end ‘free’ parking on single yellow lines up till midnight! But I think that there is a huge silver lining to this otherwise very dark cloud, and especially for all who have been battling with Westminster over their attempts to make an ‘experimental’ M/C parking tax a permanent fixture. More details at NTBPT. The bottom line here for me is that this latest move is already being seen by the majority of people and businesses in the West End as nothing more than a revenue grabbing move that will do a great deal more harm to all concerned than good. In turn, this majority in the heart of the capital will start to see the riders who have taken to the streets to oppose the council’s tax attacks on them less like a nuisance – and more like knights in shinning armour – and no matter whether the steeds they ride are great big motorbikes or nifty scooters.
Another key factor here for me – and IMHO all riders to consider – is that this is NOT A PARTY POLITICAL ISSUE. Westminster are of course a Tory council, but UK councils of every colour including Labour and Lib Dem, have, up until now, followed WCC’s lead in creating ever more sophisticated cash cows for milking motorists in the name of ‘traffic management’ – and supposedly ‘encouraging’ people to walk, cycle or go by privatised ‘public transport’. And, of greatest concern to me, they are also watching with keen interest to see if Westminster can get away with turning all motorcycle and scooter riders into a new source of local revenue by imposing extra road user taxes targeted at them.
Now, back to my views on the latest in Westminster and the pic of Chalkley. My choice of image may seem a tad unfair as this shot may have caught him at a ‘bad’ moment. Even more revealing though (as you can see in the BBC interview linked below) is the long pause as he says “…err…” while composing himself to deliver a statement that looks to me like a bit of a fib! To be frank though, anyone prone to strong feelings about weaselly attempts to justify more tax, under the cover of ecoist faith or ‘traffic management’, may even suggest that what our elected member may be saying about Westminster’s latest plan is a heaving steamer!
Nevertheless, in the sprit of fairness and decency that I try to live and write by, all I can say about whether lies are being told or not is that you will have to make your own mind up. And, you may find this live BBC interview helpful in drawing your own conclusions.
What I will say though is that one of things that troubles me most about this latest plan to end what is commonly described as ‘free’ parking – including by the objectivity seeking BBC – is that PARKING A MOTORCYCLE, SCOOTER OR ANY OTHER PRIVATE MOTOR VEHICLE IS NEVER FREE in Britain. As I and others have said before, all law abiding vehicle owners in the UK pay far more in motoring taxes and duties than most people in the developed world, and vastly more than is ever spent on public highways.
Lastly, I will add that the real reasons why congestion continues to be a great problem in UK towns and cities, and especially Westminster has nothing to do with parking as dear old Danny Chalkley and many others claim. The key causes of ongoing and often worsening congestion is that most local authorities continue cutting the amount of road space that the majority of people are allowed to use. Let battle continue in the fight against robber barons – were ever and who ever they may be and whatever they’re trying to nick, be-it our cash or public highway road space!