The “No To Bike Parking Tax” campaign (NTBPT) is asking the Court of Appeal to overturn a High Court decision backing £1-a-day charges introduced by Westminster City Council.
Passing traffic honked support as scores of bikes were lined up outside the Royal Courts of Justice in a demonstration at the start of the hearing.
The British Motorcyclists Federation has urged motorcyclists all over the country to support the legal action.
It fears that if the Westminster decision stands it could signal the end for free parking for motorcyclists all over the country. The Westminster on-street parking charge scheme was made permanent in January 2010 following a pilot scheme begun in August 2008.
The rates run from £1 a day up to £100 for an annual permit. There are still free motorcycle parking bays in council car parks and a residents’ permits scheme operates. The council says there are almost 900 free spaces in car parks across the city.
On Monday Philip Coppel QC argued on the bike campaigners’ behalf that the city council had taken a legally flawed and “fundamentally wrong” approach, and the High Court had “erred in its analysis” of the situation.
Outside court, Cllr Lee Rowley, the council’s cabinet member for parking, said: “We have always maintained that, with huge demand for on-street space in Westminster, charging motorcyclists a small sum to park was reasonable and fair and the decision has been rigorously scrutinised, open to widespread public debate and tested in the High Court.
“This case has cost local taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees and staff time and we had hoped the earlier ruling would draw a line under the issue. However, we remain confident that the scheme has been implemented correctly and the court will dismiss this challenge in due course.”
The charges impose a £1-a-day fee, or £3.50 a week, £13.50 a month, £33.50 for three months or £100 a year.