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Published: 6 February 2009
Scrap this stealth tax on motorcyclists right now

• OVER the past week or so every Westminster councillor has been receiving hundreds of emails, more than 850 at the last count, from motorbike owners in Westminster and the rest of the country who are united in one thing – opposition to the motorbike parking charges introduced by the city council last year.
The council says that £150 a year is a small amount.
But let’s put it into perspective. The annual £150 motorbike parking charge represents a 22 per cent increase on the band D council tax charge for motorbike-owning residents.
And for low-income residents who cannot afford the £150 annual payment, the weekly, monthly and quarterly payments represent even bigger increases. The weekly permit cost of £5 a week costs £260 a year (38 per cent increase on the band D council tax).
That is a lot of money for the poorest residents of Westminster.
This tax was not there last year. But it is here today and it puts next years’s zero council tax promise into sharp relief for thousands of motorbike-owning Westminster residents.
When the parking charges were introduced it was claimed that the effect would be revenue neutral.
In other words, the cost of introducing the extra parking bays and security measures would be covered by the charges and there would be no surplus.
But the reality is totally different. The facts speak for themselves. Motorbike parking charges have raked in £2,272,000 in extra income, over seven times more than the £302,000 cost of providing extra motorbike parking bays, according to the latest figures provided by the council.
And the income is growing every day.
Now that the costs of providing the extra bays has been recouped from motorbike owners seven times over, the £150-a-year/£1.50-a-day parking tax should be scrapped.
Nowhere else in Britain do motorbike owners have to pay to park and people are asking who is next?
Will Westminster’s cyclists be the next to have to pay to park their bikes?
Motorbike owners just want to be left alone, just as they are in Amsterdam, in Paris and in Barcelona.
This show of anger is unprecedented in Westminster in recent times. This campaign is growing daily and it will not go away. It is clear that Westminster has few friends on this issue. The Conservative Party nationally has refused to support Westminster on this stealth tax.
Mayor Boris Johnson’s policy is diametrically opposed to what Westminster is doing.
He says: “we will support local authorities who provide more free on-street and off-street parking for motorcycles and mopeds.”
I urge Councillor Danny Chalkley to scrap the motorbike parking tax.
Leader of the Labour Group

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