Council refuses to back down over motorcycle parking charges despite angry protests

Save London Motorcycling group and their motorbikes on Wednesday. Pic: Livia Giannotti

Drivers of motorcycles, mopeds and scooters face paying up to £14,000 a year for parking in Hackney after the council rejected a motion to consider new evidence on low emissions by two wheeled vehicles. 

While councillors were meeting with a delegation of campaigners, dozens of motorcyclists and supporters demonstrated outside Hackney town hall against the new charges on parking fees.

The demonstration was coordinated by Save London Motorcycling, a grassroots organisation representing owners of mopeds, motorcycles and scooters. 

Save London Motorcycling group in front of Hackney Town Hall on Wednesday. Pic: Ella Duggan

The measures include the introduction of a mandatory parking permit for all residents, charged according to vehicle’s CO2 emissions. The price of parking could increase £6 per hour, reaching £14,000 a year for the average commuter.

The campaigners presented their petition, which had over 7800 signatures, at the council meeting in Hackney on Wednesday night. They asked the Cabinet to reverse their decision, considering the evidence they brought to the meeting on two-wheeled vehicles’ low carbon footprint. 

Campaigners said that “Hackney Council have based their flawed policy on the bogus claim PTWs (Powered two-wheelers) produce higher NO2 emissions than cars, based on a single outdated and repeatedly debunked study of 30-year-old motorcycles which predated European emission standards. This is despite there being volumes of extensive readily available gold standard peer-reviewed official evidence to the contrary, such as from Defra and the GLA.

Green Party Councillor and Cabinet member Binnie-Lubbock proposed a motion for the Cabinet to “review the evidence that’s been presented” and was seconded by Conservative councillors Simche Steinberger and Benzion Papier. 

Labour Cabinet members voted down Binnie-Lubbock’s motion. The Cabinet will not consider the new evidence in making further decisions about parking charges, and the Council’s measures will take place as announced, with no revisions.

Karen Neill, businesswoman and winner of Britain’s Biking hero, told council members: “The Council has said that motorcycles will be charged less if they have lower emissions, but their understanding of motorcycle emissions is flawed. The fact that electric motorcycles and cars will pay the same is just one example which proves this. Riders care about the environment just as much as anyone. We want to help the council achieve their aims by understanding the benefits of motorcycles and scooters for everyone in Hackney… We are part of the answer to reduce air pollution and congestion” 

She added: “It is a class-cleaning measure. How can you do this to working people?” 

Katie, a small business owner in Hackney, said: “The impact of the charges will be entirely negative to me, my business and Hackney itself. I am asking you as a Hackney business owner, as someone who cares about Hackney, to please reconsider these regressive charges.”

Steinberger told the Council that four in five people opposed the measures during the consultation and said: “Law is not supposed to be for making money. Obviously, Hackney likes to do that”.

Mayor Philip Glanville told the campaigners they had been “heard” and said he “is confident that most motorcycles in Hackney will face affordable charges”.

Motorcyclists were riding around Hackney Town Hall on Wednesday to demonstrate against parking charges. Pic: Livia Giannotti

A spokesperson for Save London Motorcycling told ELL: “This is outrageous. Most people who drive motorcycles have low incomes, live in flats and have no parking space, or use their bikes to commute. Using a motorbike is an informed choice, people do it for a reason, because they can’t afford other means.” 

They said: “This measure is not going to put people in public transports, just out of jobs and in transport poverty. For most people, it would become more convenient to give up their job than to give up their bike”.

Neill said: “I am a motorcycle mechanic, and as a business owner, I am highly concerned about the loss of motorcyclists”. 

“It’s unbelievable that a local authority would induce transport poverty… at this time in particular, it’s classicism… I feel that Hackney do not want working class people in this borough”.

Three female campaigners also told ELL that motorcycles are the only safe transport they can use, especially when they “come back late from work”. They said the charges would force them to “cycle, Uber or take public transport”, while they have already “been mugged” when biking in the past.

ELL asked Hackney Labour Councillors for comment, but none of them provided a response ahead of publication

The new parking charges will be introduced “from Spring/Summer 2023”.

Save London Motorcycling group with Councillor Papier and Councillor Steinberger. Pic: Livia Giannotti

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