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Hackney Council Called Upon to Deal Fairly with Motorcyclists as it Presses Ahead with new ‘Poverty Tax’

Promises to reconsider parking charges scheme broken by the London Borough

Hackney Borough Council in London have broken their promise to commuters, carers and residents who ride motorcycles for work and essential services. It has signalled intent to press on with an exorbitant and regressive motorcycle parking charge which stands to plunge many of those who ride into transport poverty.

On March 27th Hackney Council Cabinet will meet to consider a new policy on powered two wheeler (PTW) parking charges which motorcycling organisations, the motorcycle trade and trade unionists have dubbed a “poverty tax”.

In October Hackney Council promised they would work with riders to make changes to the charges. They have since set aside this promise, and have made no meaningful changes to their proposals.

Hackney Council also claimed to have “worked with motorcycle businesses across the borough to ensure these changes have a minimal impact”. Commenting on this claim George Dennison, owner of one of Britain’s most famous scooter shops, Hackney institution Motoden, said: “This is completely untrue, I’ve had no direct contact from anyone at Hackney Council about motorcycle parking charges. This will have a drastic impact on my business, our thousands of customers and the 30 people who work across Motoden sites. How can Hackney justify this when Westminster, one of the most expensive places to park in the world, only charges motorcycles £1 a day. I’d like to know which motorcycle business they did consult with as they have come nowhere near me.”

Hackney’s Mayor promised in January that the Council would look again at the charges, and that the Council wanted to remedy the potential devastating impact of the charges on those who commute by motorcycles, scooters and mopeds into Hackney. He recognised PTWs as a valid commuting mode, and accepted that PTWs were not cars and should not be treated as such.

However, Hackney now intends to press ahead with its original plans largely unaltered, leaving commuting workers, carers and residents facing up to £2,300 per annum in motorcycle parking charges. Given the positive benefits of motorcycling in transport, the move seems motivated by little more than an attempt to reduce the affordability of motorcycling, which is for many, currently a flexible and affordable means of travel, and the primary choice of many lower paid manual and shift workers who cannot afford to live in areas well served by public transport.

A report from Hackney officers to the borough’s Cabinet rides roughshod over the Mayor’s own statements accepting the case for motorcycling as a legitimate commuter choice, and fails to acknowledge that PTWs eliminate congestion and pollution. It also fails to recognise that a high proportion of PTWs are very low emissions models and that there is an increasing proportion of zero emissions types. The space saving benefits of motorcycles, with up to eight bikes being able to utilise a single car-parking space, is also ignored.

A spokesperson for grassroots organisation Save London Motorcycling said: “The charges are unaffordable and disproportionate, pushing thousands of riders in low paid work into transport poverty, and out of work in Hackney altogether. This is an inexcusable approach from a Council that claims to care about workers’ rights and welfare”.

NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said: We are alarmed by the apparent bad faith demonstrated by Hackney Council Officers on this issue and urge Cabinet to reject the report and instruct officers to engage motorcycling organisations in a meaningful way to develop sensible and fair proposals for motorcycle parking policy.

Anna Zee BMF Political & Technical Services Director said: “It is a disgrace that Hackney’s policy is based on bad data. The Council is further disgraced by ignoring the correct information provided to them and their failure to recognise the hardship they will cause”

Written by Craig Carey-Clinch

National Motorcyclists Council members are: The Auto Cycle UnionBikeSocialBikeTrac, the British Motorcyclists Federation, IAM RoadSmartMental Health Motorbikethe National Motorcycle Dealers AssociationPlantec Assistthe Trail Riders Fellowship and the Vintage Motor Cycle Club

A link to relevant documents can be found here:

Top image courtesy of NMC