London boroughs could yet scupper Boris' bike hire plans
Question mark over Biking Boris's 'velib' scheme as councils refuse planning permission
Having to find extra money to pay for a bike hire scheme in certain London boroughs might see it scrapped, defying the wishes of the capital’s mayor.
Camden and Westminster look set to refuse planning permission for bike stations that would replace car parking spaces. The revenue generated from car parking, they say, will be lost at a time when resources are much-needed.
Camden has already denied permission for one park and Westminster is likely to refuse planning permission for five out of 39 sites at a meeting this week.
Although Boris Johnson has pledged 6,000 bikes on London’s streets by May 2010, he has refused to compensate the councils for loss of car parking revenue. However, Transport for London will pay for the installation of the stations.
Westminster council has been in financial crisis since it lost £17 million in the Icelandic banking collapse. It plans to make redundancies in order to save £10 million.
Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the opposition Labour group at Westminster, told the Evening Standard: “The council is already in a financial crisis and having to find an extra £400,000 will inevitably lead to a loss in services or cut in posts.
“There has been disquiet among residents because of the loss of pavement space. The problem is these things often get pushed through by Cabinet members without any proper discussion about what is best for the council or residents.”
Camden and Westminster also want to refuse planning permission because they say the docking stations will be too close to homes, block entrances and damage tree roots.
A spokesman for TfL said: “We are surprised to hear these claims as there are a number of other boroughs who are keen to get involved. By working together we have sought to find the locations that will have the minimum impact on the space available to all road users.”