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MU and Equity reiterate West End car parking fears

West End theatres... under threat? Photo: Alex Brenner West End theatres... under threat? Photo: Alex Brenner
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Concerns over car parking in the West End have been highlighted by the Musicians’ Union and Equity in their submissions to an inquiry aiming to improve the workings of London’s entertainment district.

In their responses to the West End Commission, the unions refer to last year’s controversy over proposed car parking charges and call for better consultation from the council if similar regulations are considered in the future.

Equity’s submission says: “In terms of infrastructure, accessible, affordable parking remains a key concern for our members. Equity members working in London’s West End theatres and live entertainment venues rely heavily on their own transportation to be able to get to and from work, often later in the evening when public transport options are limited.”

The report states that future parking policies “must also have regard for audiences” to ensure they are not deterred from the area.

Referring to the proposed introduction of extra car parking fees in previous years, Equity calls for “positive and meaningful dialogue” between Westminster Council and those using the area.

Meanwhile, the MU cites “access and loading” as a key issue and says that performers are often forced to risk parking fines while unloading their instruments at venues.

In its written evidence it states that “greater understanding” on this matter from the council would be a “significant and positive shift”.

Dave Webster, the MU’s London region senior organiser, said: “The MU would like to find some sort of mechanism whereby musicians can load bulky, heavy instruments in and out of venues without being penalised for it.”

Arts Council England observed that the removal of free West End parking in the evenings and weekends could “limit growth” of the night-time economy, in its report.

As part of its suggestions for events, it also encouraged the commission to consider a year-round arts programme for Leicester Square.

Almost 70 groups and individuals wrote to the panel during the first stage of the inquiry. The commission will host the first of a series of public meetings today (October 18) and will report in the spring.


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