British bikers to submit a claim against parking charges to the European Court of Justice
After having almost exhausted all the options available in the UK domestic legal system to successfully challenge the validity and legality of motorcycle parking charges imposed by Westminster City Council in the heart of London, thousands of British bikers are preparing to take their case to the European Court of Justice. We say “almost exhausted” as the bikers are still in the process of asking permission to present their case before the UK Supreme Court, which is the only remaining option to see the parking tax scrapped through the UK domestic legal system. If that doesn’t work, which we believe to be highly likely, the bikers will submit a claim to the European Court of Justice against the Government of the United Kingdom.
The UK domestic courts have (subject to any possible ruling from the Supreme Court) declared Westminster Council’s motorcycle parking charge legal and valid on the grounds that it is only fair that motorbike and scooter riders pay for parking because car drivers are required to do so. The UK courts have also said that, by making motorcyclists pay for parking, any discrimination between bikes and cars is eliminated. In other words, the UK legal system assumes that bikes and cars are to be treated in exactly the same way, which gives the green light to any UK council to charge motorbike and scooter riders to park within their borough, if they so wish.
The UK courts have totally failed to recognise the fact that motorbikes and scooters are congestion boosters and offer a cheaper, more convenient, less polluting and faster mode of transport, especially in large cities such as London, where congestion and pollution are very serious issues that need constant tackling. By simply considering that it is only fair that riders have to pay to park because other motorised road users also have to pay, we fear that the ruling made by the UK courts will discourage the use of motorcycles in a heavily congested and polluted environment, where bikes are an ideal and effective solution and not the cause of the problem.
Many believed that the case was robust and able to clearly demonstrate to the UK domestic courts that Westminster City Council had introduced their motorcycle parking charge without adequate consultation and in the sole and unique objective to raise revenue from parking bays that were totally free of charge from the day of their creation. The UK courts rejected these claims and based their entire judgement on grounds of discrimination and fairness between cars and motorcycles.
The thousands of bikers who have been supporting the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign for the past three years disagree with the ruling made by the UK courts and now intend to take their case to the European Court of Justice (pending the result of their application to the UK Supreme Court) and against their own British Government.
The bikers wish to ask the European Court of Justice whether any member state of the European Union is entitled to treat motorcycles like cars when the former have, among other benefits, the power of considerably cutting congestion and pollution. The same bikers also wish to ask the European Court of Justice whether it is acceptable to discourage the use of motorcycles within the European Union by charging them in a view to raising revenue and managing demand, when motorcycles are a key solution to pollution and congestion issues and domestic governments should actively encourage their citizens to switch from four to two wheels. Let’s face it, if the European Court of Justice considers, like the UK domestic courts, that motorcycles are to be treated like cars, not only can we expect to see parking charges for motorbikes and scooters rolled out across the entire European Union, but also the presence of considerable problems with managing pollution, congestion and road space (to name three) in all member states and their respective cities. If, on the contrary, the European Court of Justice recognises that motorbikes and scooters are a major solution to cut pollution, congestion, effectively manage road space etc, then we can expect the ruling made by the UK domestic courts to become invalid and other European member states to scrap any plans they may have to charge motorbikes and scooters for parking.
The case, as it is to be presented before the European Court of Justice, is likely to generate an inmense interest across the entire European Union, from Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Milan to Athens, Warsaw, Stockholm, to name a few. Whatever decision the European Courts will come up with will impact all member states. That decision will either give the green light to all European Union member states to introduce parking charges for motorcycles, and thus discourage their use, or else, prohibit the implementation and imposition of parking charges for motorcycles everywhere within Europe.
The No To Bike Parking Tax campaign has so far successfully managed to keep motorcycle parking charges limited to the central London Borough of Westminster. Surely, a large number of UK councils have been waiting for the ruling of their domestic courts before embarking on to charging for motorcycle parking. Now that the case is highly likely to be taken to the European Court of Justice, will councils wait for a European ruling before introducing parking charges for bikes or will they introduce them anyway and take the risk of having to scrap them at a later stage, should the European Union orders them to do so? Let’s wait and see… but it’s soon all going to be within the very capable hands of the European Court of Justice.
We can only be thankful that the United Kingdom is a full and permanent member state of the European Union, where British bikers sincerely hope to benefit from a much fairer and more realistic hearing than it has been in their own domestic legal system.
Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/
Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/
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