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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
John Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Project Manager - ETRM/CTRM

£70000 - £90000 per annum + Job Satisfaction: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...

SAP SD OTC Consultant | 12Months

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP SD OTC Consultant | 12 Months | 500/...

Business Systems Analyst - London - £40,000 plus benefits

£35000 - £40000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Business Syst...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil