Follow Paris and charge SUVs more to park, suggests London politician

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Guildhall in the City of London
Credit Google

A London politician has suggested the City of London should follow Paris’s lead and hike parking charges for SUVs, to discourage them from being driven into the Square Mile. Alderwoman Susan Pearson said the City of London Corporation should look at “doing something a bit more radical and a bit more user-friendly”, citing the increasing size of vehicles and threats to cyclists.

Parisians earlier this year approved a steep increase to parking rates for cars weighing 1.6 tonnes or more to £16 an hour in the inner city.

Alderwoman Pearson’s comments came during a Planning and Transportation Committee meeting yesterday (March 5) in which members were discussing introducing emissions-based charging for the Corporation’s owned car parks.

Under the plans, the flat fee-paying structure across the five car parks the Corporation runs (Baynard House, London Wall, Minories, Tower Hill and Smithfield) would be revised based on the vehicle type. This would also see increases to all drivers over the next two years, other than those with electric, hydrogen or hybrid vehicles, and would largely mirror the scheme currently in place for on-street parking.

A City of London spokesperson previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) this is “to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, who make up a significant majority of journeys through the Square Mile”. Corporation documents also detail how the move is expected to bring in £200,000 to £500,000 a year for the Environment department, which manages Baynard House, London Wall, Minories and Tower Hill, and £85,000 to £150,000 for Markets, which is responsible for Smithfield.

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At yesterday’s meeting, Cllr Luis Felipe Tilleria asked whether looking at a different charging structure for Mondays and Fridays would be appropriate to support businesses in the Square Mile.

“Considering we have a problem in the City in which the small business are lacking footfall because more people are avoiding coming to work in the office on Mondays, usually, and Fridays, sometimes, would this be the proper moment to see if strategically we can also consider having different pricing for Mondays and Fridays? For example, to attract more people to come to the office, just as we are trying to discourage people from using some sort of cars, so we can look after our small business owners as well?”

The Corporation’s officer presenting the item, Ian Hughes, said the intention is to ensure there are adequate car parking spaces for those who need them in the City, without attracting people driving in who otherwise may not. “We would prefer that they were travelling in by existing public transport, which is something that is reflected in the Mayor’s proposals about Friday travel through the public transport system.”

Alderwoman Pearson put to officers the need to consider pricing for residents’ fees and tickets ‘holistically’, ensuring people living in the City are consulted, and that those who require a parking space can access one.

She continued to raise the ‘huge charges’ Paris implemented earlier this year for bringing a large SUV into the city, and while acknowledging ‘it won’t happen’, asked: “Could we not think about doing something similar in the City here? Cars are getting bigger and bigger. As a cyclist, I find that quite often cars are well over into the road because they are so wide now, and I just think that, obviously not this year, but maybe we could think about doing something a bit more radical and a bit more user-friendly.”

Mr Hughes said officers are aware of the growing size of cars in the City, and had to look into increasing the size of parking bays several years ago. He added consideration of different vehicle types can be included in the transport strategy review.

Following questions, members agreed to move to emissions-based charging for the Corporation’s car parks.

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