Car-free vista 'must go ahead': Head of Horse Guards Parade plan committee defies self-interest of civil servants

Ministers' and civil service self-interest must not be allowed to stop the closure of Horse Guards Road and Horse Guards Parade to cars, Dame Jennifer Jenkins, the chairwoman of the official committee that recommended the closures, said last night.

The Independent disclosed leaked Whitehall correspondence yesterday showing that the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet ministers quashed a plan by the Secretary of State for National Heritage, Peter Brooke, to act on the Jenkins Committee report and free this important London vista of parked cars.

A senior source also revealed that civil servants who park on Horse Guards Parade had urged ministers to block the proposal.

Taking parked cars off Horse Guards Parade has also been a target of the Independent's campaign to improve the spaces around key historic and cultural buildings.

Last night, Dame Jennifer said: 'We stick totally to our recommendations. The Government say they are still under review and I still hope they will proceed. It is clear that there are a number of issues that have become entangled.

'The fact that Horse Guards Parade is where civil servants park their cars does appear to be of particular relevance here. Civil service parking would seem to have policy implications.'

She added that her committee had looked into who parks on Horse Guards Parade and she was 'in no doubt that nearly all those who did could park near by or use public transport'.

The Department of National Heritage maintained that despite the revelations of the letters, ministers at the department still intended to pursue the Jenkins recommendations, and the chief executive of the Royal Parks Agency, David Welch, would be holding discussions with government ministries.

A Downing Street spokeswoman would make no comment. But she pointed out that the leaked letter stated it would be inappropriate to review the position 'at present'.

John Gummer, the Minister for London, is understood privately to be in favour of the call for cars to be removed from Horse Guards Parade, but remains opposed to the closure of Horse Guards Road. A spokesman said yesterday: 'His opposition is based on the fact that if you shut the road to traffic you cause congestion in Parliament Square.'

When told that Mr Gummer's reasoning - that alternative routes between SW1 and W1 were longer - was incorrect according to an Independent test run, the spokesman said that 'the minister's view remained unchanged'.

A spokesman for Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, who also wrote confidentially to the heritage department to block the initiative, said: 'We don't comment on leaked documents.

'And we don't comment on terrorist and security aspects, which were among the areas of concern that Michael Howard set out.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future