Council votes to hike electric vehicle parking charges by 1,800%

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

A Central London council has narrowly won a vote to hike Electric Vehicle (EV) parking charges to what the opposition says is an 1,800 per cent increase.

Westminster City councillors voted four to three in favour of the measure on Wednesday night, with councillor Jason Williams using his vote as chair of the climate action, environment and highways police and scrutiny committee to end the tie-breaker and give the controversial plans the final seal of approval.

The move, which will see prices jump to £1.46 an hour from 8p, was called in by opposition councillors for debate over fears it would disproportionately impact low-income earners, traders plus the elderly and disabled.

Westminster City says the changes are aimed at getting people to reduce their reliance on vehicles to travel in the borough and to decrease congestion.

Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, the cabinet member leading the change, said the prices would bring Westminster City in line with other neighbouring councils, some of which, he said, are charging almost double the amount.

He told the committee last night: “I want to make it absolutely clear. The proposals will not reduce the incentive to drive an electric vehicle. For pay-to-park, charges for EV and plug-in hybrid vehicles are currently extremely low as to be virtually nominal and thus are unsustainable going forward.”

Current pay-to-park charges for EVs and hybrid vehicles set motorists back between 32p and 96p an hour, depending on where they’ve parked. In April, when the new pricing comes into effect, that will jump to between £1.46 and £4.62, according to a council report.

Cllr Dimoldenberg said this was cheaper or in line with neighbouring boroughs, whose prices he said varied between £1.50 in Kensington and Chelsea to £5 in the City of London.

He also said disabled people and the elderly would be largely unaffected by the increase through the White and Blue Badge schemes and said over 60s benefits from free travel through Transport for London.

The move, he said, is only expected to impact five per cent of car owners in Westminster, and said the rates were “very competitive” for tradespeople.

Opposition councillor Laila Cunningham accused the cabinet member of “imposing your judgement” on Westminster residents and said the measures would drive people like her 90-year-old mother off the road.

She said: “My mother is 90 years old. She’s been driving all her life. She’s very happy when her driving licence is renewed and I feel like the aim of your administration is to remove that choice from her by forcing her to take public transport.”

Cllr Dimoldenberg strongly denied the claim, saying his aim was to see more able-bodied residents swap their car for a cycle, transport or walk.

Cllr Cunningham angrily shot back: “You just said your aim is to make people less reliant on their cars and to reduce congestion. That does not take into account the elderly, the disabled, the young families and I think it is very, very short-sighted not to do that.”

The cabinet member responded: “I’m sorry if that’s the message you’re getting but I’m trying to get younger, fitter, able people to get out of their cars and to walk more and cycle more and to use public transport.”

(Picture: Noya Fields/Flickr)

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