Council ordered to put the brakes on 'nightlife tax'

Judge warns of risk to West End businesses if Westminster goes ahead with parking charges

Theatre-goers, restaurateurs and night workers throughout London's West End were celebrating yesterday after plans to introduce evening and weekend parking charges were shelved until after the Olympic Games.

The proposed charges, dubbed a "tax on nightlife", had infuriated impresarios and business owners alike. They have been temporarily dropped after a High Court judge said they risked damaging local businesses.

Allowing a judicial review of the plan, Mr Justice Collins said: "There is a real risk of substantial damage to businesses and churches if it goes ahead." He ruled that the overnight charges of up to £4.80 per hour must not be introduced until judicial proceedings were concluded, adding that the current consultation process was "arguably far too limited".

Following the ruling, Westminster City Council decided that the charges, due to be in place during the normally free periods on Monday to Saturday evenings and from 1pm to 6pm on Sundays, should be put off until after the Olympics.

The council leader Colin Barrow, who had attempted to push through the plans as early as 9 January next year, said: "London faces many challenges in 2012 and we do not wish this public debate to become a distraction to preparations for the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics." He said he recognised the "significance" of the judgment and said the council would discuss the policy and "continue to listen to the concerns of residents, visitors and business". The news will come as a blow to the council as well as the parking firms that were set to enjoy a windfall from the new charges.

Westminster Council has signed a turnover rental agreement with the car park operator Q-Park to run its facilities, meaning that the more revenue the company makes from people forced to use its car parks, the more it will pay to the council in rent.

Enforcement of the parking rules was contracted out to the NSL, formerly part of the car parking firm NCP, which employs traffic wardens in Westminster. The company's director, Mark Underwood, put its recent "excellent" financial results in part down to retaining contracts with Westminster City Council. Mr Underwood himself took home more than £1.2m in salary, bonuses and other payments in 2010.

Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone said the council should "drop rather than delay its plans". The Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jnr told the London Evening Standard: "I'm very happy but we can't open the champagne just yet. The council has to realise it was wrong. It must not waste any more money and time fighting this in court."

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "I applaud [Mr Barrow's] wisdom and bravery in making the right decision for Londoners at a tough time for the economy." However, the council leader – who is also a millionaire chairman of the hedge fund Alpha Strategic Ltd – insisted that the plans should still go ahead.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: IT Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Are you someone that "makes th...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

Recruitment Genius: Apprentice Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join this w...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

£12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn