CHANGES in parking regulations in the West End of London have forced Jenny Glanville of KM Fairs to shelve her monthly antiques fair at the Park Lane Hotel on Piccadilly – the fixture started by her mother Kate Marlowe 35 years ago.
On an experimental basis starting on January 9, parking changes rolled out across the West End by Westminster Council will see the end of free parking on single yellow lines in the evenings and all day on Sundays. The new hours of control will be from 6.30pm to midnight from Monday to Saturday and from 1pm to 6pm on Sunday.
Talking to ATG, Jenny Glanville said: "My fair at the Park Lane Hotel runs from 11am to 5pm on a Sunday and people can park up the road on single yellow lines by the Royal Academy all day. While it's OK for the trade who come early, it's likely to be a problem for many of my visitors and also for exhibitors. So my fair on October 16 was the last for the time being until I see how it works out. My feeling is that the parking changes will be so unpopular that the council will have to rethink them."
Liam Brooker, senior policy officer with the council's strategy unit, told ATG: "Our research clearly shows that traffic in the West End does not follow traditional rush hour patterns. Some of the streets are busier at 10pm than at 10am. Occupancy in the West End is at its highest on Sundays and we are therefore changing the hours of control to reflect prevailing conditions as part of a long term parking review."
The council denies that the changes are linked to a budget black hole of £22m. It is illegal for councils to increase parking charges to raise revenue, but it is reported that extending the hours of control in central London would certainly add an extra £5.8m to the council coffers in the financial year 2012/13.
The planned changes have caused fierce opposition from businesses in the West End, particularly theatres, cinemas, clubs, restaurants and hotels, while Mayor Boris Johnson, who has no formal jurisdiction over the council, has warned that the West End's economy could be damaged.
For the moment, it leaves Jenny Glanville with one remaining fair, at the Rembrandt Hotel in South Kensington.
By Joan Porter