City of Westminster parking restrictions and "making the world a different place"

The City of Westminster has its thumb on the windpipe of live music, and seems to have it in for bassists, keyboard players and drummers in particular.

A proposal, for a trial period of 18 months, to extend residents’ parking hours until midnight from Monday to Saturday across large parts of the borough, is THE talked-about issue among musicians at the moment.

It was passed at a meeting at Westminster City Hall last Monday.The Musicians Union were not allowed to attend or be reprsented the meeting. Here’s the MU’s story. The meeting was chaired by Colin Barrow CBE, who has been a board member at Rambert Dance Company. He said in 2003: “Politics demands an impatience with the status quo. Politics is about getting something done, about effecting change, about making the world a different place.”

After this impatiently-applied ruling, Westminster will indeed be a different place. Simon Little has just posted this on his blog:

“Many London gigs would simply be wiped out as musicians and patrons are priced out of the West End by the sheer expense of the visit. I have no choice but to drive to gigs with all the large and heavy equipment I need to carry, plus the fact that I live out of town and have no easy access to public transport. I’m sure the last thing Westminster Council wants is for me to rock up at tube stations with a double bass and an amp. Not to mention the drummers… And at the end of the night when the tube and train services have stopped running, how are we meant to get home safely?”


Categories: miscellaneous

8 replies »

  1. Oh dear. Another example of politicians failing to think in a joined-up manner. What is not made clear here is the “problem” that this measure is supposed to address; I don't live in London, but I do have experience of being with people who are trying to park in it to get to an evening concert, and the existing system seems to me to work perfectly well.

    If it's simply an attempt to raise extra revenue, I don't think it will work as well as the politicians expect, because people who are not carrying heavy instruments will just park a little further away. Given the cost of parking in Westminster, it may even be more economic to get a taxi from somewhere just outside the affected areas if necessary!

  2. There will be no end to it. As Councils seek to raise additional revenues, the majority of London's streets will become CPZs. Actual residents' needs or traffic management measures have little or nothing to do with it now. It's only about generating income streams. Common sense and logic have been put to oneside in the headlong and myopic rush to bolster council bugets.

  3. While this is clearly crazy, and makes no sense at all. I'm hesitantly prompted to want to point out that if there IS anything we can to to reduce the need for individual car journeys, then we should be looking for it.

    I'm not arguing against any of the points on Simon Little's blog post – about lack of public transport, or what do you do if you play Double Bass – as they're clearly all true right now. But perhaps there are some constructive responses to this that could also be made?

    For example, I'm reminded that when the congestion charge started, the Festival Hall was prompted to buy a drum kit that was then available for all the foyer jazz gigs.

    Every gig night, cars and vans criss-cross the city – and the country – full of near identical PA systems, keyboards and backline gear to play at venues like hotels for weddings, parties, etc. Isn't it about time that we got the 'hospitality industry' to sort this out? It seems like a pointless waste of time and energy for everyone.

    Every bit of unnecessary petrol/diesel burned, as well as adding to the CO2 in the atmosphere, is reducing the stock of fossil fuel that we'll need one day to keep people alive (eg on kidney dialysis). I don't think this has anything to do with Westminster Council's very blinkered view of the world. But it's the thing that means the most to me.

  4. I think that BB makes a very valid point. Venues have a degree of responsibility and should do more to have their own drum kits (or even share them). At the Vortex, we have a full backline available to musicians
    Some bassists now come by public transport as they know that there's a decent amp at the club and despite good parking – still!
    Partly the situation is reminiscent of when it started getting nearly impossible to take large instruments on planes. It's rare that any visiting musician comes with his own bass any more. Indeed more and more drummers are using our snare drum and are asking about cymbals – both things that in general are very personal.
    However our problem at present is more to do with potential marauders in Hackney than with musicians and their instruments. Unfortunately.

  5. live music is dying . this will kill it off in certain areas and i personally will have to let my gigs go in that area if i have to park miles away from the venues i work in . this is a blatent smack in the face of live music and encouraging the ipad/ipod entertainer . music is a way of life for both artists and discerning listeners . greed has no place in real music . funny that these mps frequent one of the places i work . there always drunk till the early hours of the morning . where will they go if that place is shut down !

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