Restaurant king blasts ‘fascist’ Westminster over parking
Outspoken: The Wolseley’s co-owner Jeremy King said double yellow lines were “revenge”
Jonathan Prynn, Consumer Business Editor
13 March 2012
One of London’s best known restaurateurs has compared Westminster council to a “fascistic” regime over its “irresponsible” handling of parking in the West End.
Jeremy King, co-owner of The Wolseley in Piccadilly and The Delaunay in Aldwych, launched an outspoken attack on the Tory-run authority in a newsletter to regular customers.
He said the defeat of plans by former leader Colin Barrow to introduce parking charges in the evenings “has proven to be pyrrhic” because of a huge programme of converting single yellow lines to doubles that followed.
Mr King, 57, wrote: “Yes we have avoided having to pay charges but now the parking has been rendered more difficult by what can only be described as an act of mendacity and obfuscation worthy of much more fascistic and feared regimes around the world.
“Throughout the West End miles of single lines have been made double unnecessarily as an act of what looks like petulant revenge.”
The council, whose new leader Philippa Roe has tried to distance herself from the row over charges, has converted about five miles of lines to “no-parking-at-any-time” doubles mainly in Mayfair, Fitzrovia and Marylebone. It passed the order authorising the conversion programme on the last shopping day before Christmas.
Mr King, who with his business partner Jeremy Corbin is opening Brasserie Zédel off Regent Street in June and Café Colbert in Sloane Square in September, said “everyone is up in arms across the West End” about the move.
The council has argued that most of the changes are needed to protect pedestrians crossing at “dropped kerbs” on corners or to stop drivers parking dangerously near junctions.
But Mr King said that “whilst that may be true for 2 or 3 per cent of them most are totally gratuitous and we are left with the sight of long stretches of double yellow irrationally interrupted by the odd remaining residents or meter bay”.
In a symbolic move, former City banker Ms Roe yesterday broke up the transport portfolio in her new cabinet. Parking will now be handled by Daniel Astaire, the member for business. Lee Rowley, the member for transport and parking under Mr Barrow, is now in charge of community services. Transport will be part of the street management portfolio under Ed Argar, who is thought to have been privately opposed to the parking charges policy.