HAMMERSMITH and Fulham Council is facing fresh accusations of waging war on motorists, after it imposed a 66 per cent rise in garage rents.
The council is already under fire from drivers who say its parking department is ‘target-based’ and ‘revenue-raising’, and raked in nearly £14 million in traffic fines last year alone.
The latest move, in which rents have risen from £60 a month to £100, has added fuel to the fire and angry car owners, many of them pensioners, say it could leave them with no choice but to give up their garages, and therefore their cars, cutting off a vital lifeline.
Alan Worth, from Lillie Road, Fulham, who owns a 45-year-old classic car with his wife Paula, said: “The new price is extortionate and many people have already given notice to give up their garages.
"Many, if not most, of the garage-holders are retired pensioners like myself and fear they might not be able to park near their homes because of the volume of street parking in the borough.
“The council has also said the garages will now be available to non-council residents and I feel that this is yet another way to increase revenue at the motorist’s expense. I am not against the council raising extra funds, but I really feel they should target these people who are breaking the conditions of their garage contract and get those vacated and use them for private lettings, and leave us as we were.
"I really can’t see why the council won’t give pensioners a proper discount because, for many of us, cars are a lifeline for the shops, visiting friends and relatives, and in my own case, allowing me to pursue my only hobby."
Councillor Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, said the new system was fairer because a flat rate has been introduced.
"We are still offering some of the cheapest garage spaces in the borough and across west London,” he said. "This new pricing is much fairer because all residents, whether they live in a council property or not, will be paying a flat rate of £100 a month to rent a council garage.
“The increased income from the scheme will stop the council’s garage portfolio being subsidised by rents from non-garage council tenants and will ensure that there is sufficient additional income to maintain and improve our existing stock."