Strenuously denying claims that they're extending the charges to plug a £22m gap in their finances, the council claim that the move is to ease congestion, though an internal briefing suggests otherwise; stating that 'Officers were asked to go away and look more closely at parking and community safety to find reductions or additional income. The areas of parking and community safety have been earmarked to contribute the majority of the £14m [the sum Westminster says it needs to find].' Which certainly suggests to us that the council view parking charges as a revenue stream.
It's a risky move, especially considering that neighbouring Camden tried to pull the same stunt a few years ago and were firmly ruled against in the High Court. It's also not calculated to endear Westminster with its neighbouring boroughs as motorists spread out in search of free parking. And it's not just visitors that will be affected - evening workers in the area will also be out of pocket.