Church attendance could be greatly reduced by parking regulation changes in the capital.
Westminster council has proposed the introduction of restrictions and fees applicable to parking on Sundays in Soho, Marylebone, and Mayfair. Parking is free after 6.30pm under the current system. The new plans have been slated as a “crude and cynical way to make money” by critics.
Thousands of supporters have signed a petition launched by the rector of St.George’s in Hanover Square, the Rev Roderick Leece.
He said: “We need a campaign to stop this destructive move. Where Westminster leads, other councils will follow. If Sunday parking restrictions become the norm this could have an effect on many other inner-city churches and cathedrals.
“At least half of our average congregation drive to church on a Sunday. Having to find a parking bay and pay £4.40 per hour will deter a number of worshippers.”
Westminster cabinet member for parking, Lee Rowley, said: “More traffic is coming into the city late into the evening and on weekends than during regular business hours.
“We have consulted on how we tackle this. The review is about making it easier for residents, businesses and visitors to use our roads.” It was revealed this week that the council had previously identified parking tickets and fines as a huge revenue source. Its officers had been told to “look more closely at parking and community safety to find further reductions (or additional income)”.