|"Prada People Don't Use The Tube"|
Council finally react to residents' complaints about parking
After months of complaints by residents about the impossible parking situation near the Westfield site, the Council have finally announced they are prepared to "act swiftly" to resolve parking issues - possibly without even holding a consultation.
The Council say they have “already measured parking stress in the side streets around the mega-mall” and that they have had “robust negotiations” with senior management at Westfield to ensure there is no incentive for shoppers to park on residential side streets.
However, parking charges in Westfield’s three-level underground car park, which have long been kept under wraps, have turned out to be higher than those in the surrounding streets. With £2.00 set as the minimum fee, parking in the streets would seem to be an attractive alternative, particularly for short-stay visitors.
The roads immediately surrounding Westfield are in parking zone G, where pay and display tickets cost 90p for 30 minutes. The parking bays are only kept exclusively for residents’ use for an hour and a half on weekday evenings and for three-and-a-half hours on Saturdays. On Sundays, parking is free.
“It’s already bad enough when QPR are playing. If there’s a football match on and people shopping, there’ll be nowhere for residents to park. Prada people aren’t going to use the Tube. Parking is going to be a nightmare because it’s free at certain times. We need a consultation on parking but the Council don’t want to know,” says resident Rosie Taylor.
We reported on Westfield-related parking issues in July when residents expressed concerns that shoppers would take their parking places and said they wanted the bays to be kept exclusively for their use. Earlier this month, we reported on complaints about contractors’ cars clogging up the parking bays – an issue that got progressively worse as the pace of the Westfield building work was stepped up.
In July, the Council appeared to be in no hurry to resolve the situation. They told us: "We will carry out the first survey in September and then another once the centre has opened, before holding a full consultation with local people in late spring."
Shepherd's Bush MP Andy Slaughter says the situation is already clear: "I can tell them now in advance, there is no parking space on the streets for residents and there is already often gridlock around Shepherds Bush Green and surrounding roads," he said in a BBC interview this week.
Immediately after the parking problems were reported on by BBC News - and on the very day that the shopping centre opened - H&F announced that the issue could be dealt with much sooner.
“We are acutely aware that the streets around Westfield could become clogged with Westfield’s shoppers and staff. If this does happen, we can either fast track changes in the controlled parking restrictions in local streets nearest the development before Christmas or we can go through a full consultation process before beginning the necessary legal procedures, which will mean that any changes cannot happen until well into next year,” said Councillor Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Deputy Leader.
“We will monitor the parking situation around Westfield for a few weeks to allow things to settle down and for parking patterns to emerge,” continues Cllr Botterill.
“At this stage, if residents locally demand urgent changes, we are prepared to cut through the time-consuming pre-consultation and in-depth surveys and act swiftly to put residents’ interests first,” he said.
The Westfield car park has 4,500 spaces with overhead digital signs directing motorists to any available spaces. At 2.30pm on the first day, when the shopping mall was packed with visitors, one indicator showed 115 parking spaces free while at 9.30pm, the same indicator showed 327 spaces.
It is not yet clear whether the majority of the 160,000 visitors to Westfield on Thursday had chosen to come by public transport or whether some had found alternative places to park.
31 October 2008