For a visitor unfamiliar with its geography, London can be a nightmarish place to find a parking space.
If you do succeed, especially in central London, you may be asked to pay a handsome sum for the privilege, a pound often not being enough for even a twenty minute stay.
Fines and Payment
Avoiding payment has become increasingly difficult in recent years, as responsibility for collecting parking fines has been taken away from the police, and has become a valuable source of income for local councils. Their parking ‘attendants’ can smell an expired parking meter ticket from five miles away. The only places where a parking offence remains a criminal affair are the vital ‘Red Routes’, where traffic wardens will demand a non-negotiable £60 fine and a probable appearance at a local Magistrate’s Court!
Combined with the spread of private towing firms across the capital, these changes have made illegal parking a very risky business. Hopefully this article will be able to help you avoid these the worst of these difficulties, and help make your visit as stress free as possible.
Other Fees - Congestions Charge
The difficulty in finding an available space increases dramatically as you approach central London. Visitors to this area should also remember that between 7am and 6.30pm, Monday to Friday, a Congestion Charge of £8 applies to vehicles wishing to enter the area immediately surrounding the City and West End.
From 2007, the charging zone will be extended westwards to include most of Kensington and Chelsea, although from 2006 drivers will be given an extra day to make the payment.
For information on locations, exemptions, and methods of payment, see the dedicated section of the Transport For London website: www.cclondon.com
The best option is usually to park your car further out, even in Zone 2 spaces are much easier to come by, and then use public transport for the final leg of your journey. The car parks attached to British Rail overground stations often have available spaces and are easy to find.