Motorcyclists have been ripped off to the tune of £2 million in a scheme scrapping free bike parking, new figures show.
A new charge to park in motorcycle bays was supposed to make £675,000 a year and pay for extra spaces but has in fact raked in nearly £2.3 million in six months, the figures released by a Labour councillor reveal. Meanwhile only £302,000 has been spent on extra bays.
The figures from councillor Paul Dimoldenberg reveal Westminster City Council has collected £1 million from parking fines after issuing over 25,000 tickets.
The daily £1.50 charge itself has raised £886,529 while season tickets have brought in another 388,000.
Campaigners say free bike parking will be scrapped nationally, bringing an end to a key benefit of motorcycling, unless the Westminster scheme is stopped.
Hundreds joined a recent protest ride from the Ace Café in Wembley to the MCN London Motorcycle Show at Excel.
Labour councillors have compared the charge to a 22% rise in council tax for bikers. Dimoldenberg said: “The costs of providing the extra motorbike parking bays has been well and truly paid for by motorbike owners - seven times over.
"All the extra income is simply an extra Conservative tax on motorbike owners and is totally unjustified.”
Westminster City Council tried play down the sum raised by releasing only net figures last week. A spokeswoman said Dimoldenberg had mistakenly counted income from season tickets twice. That would put the total income at £1,934,000 in six months – still way over the £675,000 a year projected by the council.
Riders have until next Friday to make written objections to the council before a decision is taken on whether the charge should be permanent.
The council has been accused of discouraging opposition from motorcyclists after it insisted objections be sent to a specific postal address which it failed to effectively publicise.
Campaign group No To the Bike Parking Tax has made the process easier by creating an online objection form which can be sent straight to the right people at the click of a mouse.
The group has also drafted an objection letter. Find both here: www.notobikeparkingfees.com/object-by-e-mail/
Campaign chairman Warren Djanogly urged riders to join the next protest ride, from Park Lane Underground car park to Westminster Council’s headquarters at City Hall on February 17, the day before the deadline.