London

Westminster parking: Lines converted to double yellows

Nearly a fifth of the single yellow lines in central London are being converted into double lines.

Conservative-run Westminster Council said single lines next to dropped kerbs would become double lines to aid pedestrians.

However, Labour councillors said this would mean far fewer parking spaces in the West End on evenings and weekends.

In December, the council postponed plans to start charging for parking in the area at off-peak times.

The council said removing single yellow lines would let pedestrians cross more safely at many junctions, allow emergency-response vehicles better access to buildings, and enable drivers to drop off passengers more easily.

"We want to make our city better by reducing the number of tickets and ensuring disabled people can get around, and we think that's a good thing," said Councillor Lee Rowley, the cabinet member for parking and transport.

"This is part of a long process to ensure we reduce the number of (parking) tickets we issue in Westminster."

He said the council had initially announced the plans two years ago and notified people of them in November.

Labour said the plan would remove 1,191 off-peak parking spaces, however Mr Rowley said many of these spaces were difficult to park in and the number of practical parking spaces being cut was nearer to 100.

And Labour leader in Westminster, Paul Dimoldenberg, slammed the decision to "bury bad news" by announcing it at 15:00 GMT on 23 December.

In a letter to council leader Colin Barrow, he wrote: "The decision to bury the bad news on 23 December was a disgrace.

"If Westminster had been a backwater council with no PR resources this might have been excused as naive.

"But Westminster has a £3m a year PR operation, employing a director of communications earning almost £140,000 a year."

Disabled support

He added: "You knew exactly what you were doing by making the announcement on the afternoon the media was packing up for Christmas."

The council says it had agreed on the scheme last August.

Dr Adrian Stokes OBE, chairman, of Disabled Motoring UK, gave the changes his support.

He said: "We cannot understand the objections to this initiative.

"This initiative will greatly help people with mobility problems get around."

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