Leading figures from the eating and drinking out sector have come out in criticism over plans by Westminster County Council to introduce new parking charges from January. The new charges, which take effect from the 9 January, will operate until midnight Monday to Saturday, and 1pm to 6pm on Sundays. The plan has been labelled a £7m-a-year disincentive for motorists coming to spend their money in the West End, while operators in the capital believe the new charges will be a threat to the area’s night-time economy. Despite criticism over the plans, including from Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has called on the scheme to be dropped, the council has dug its heels in over the initiative. Jeremy King, co-proprietor of The Wolseley in Piccadilly, told the Evening Standard, that the scheme was “one of the most foolish central London initiatives I have ever encountered” He said: “Whilst all the lobby groups seem to be apprising Westminster of issues they staggeringly don't seem to have contemplated, the greater the case for abandoning the policy, the more they dig their heels in." Jonathan Moradoff, associate director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “With the enormous financial pressure Britain is already under, Westminster has the most profitable on-trade of all UK towns and cities at more than £2bn per year and is home of Europe’s largest night-time economy. At this incredibly fragile time for the economy, amidst daily reports that consumers are deserting the high street in favour of out of town retail parks and shopping centres, it is shameful that Westminster can put in place a scheme to radically disincentivise the public to spend in town. “This a short-term money grab to appease local voters and regain financial losses from elsewhere has no consideration towards the long term repercussions for the UK economy at large. It is grossly unfair that a small electorate voting on parochial issues which keep council tax in this comparatively affluent borough artificially low compared to elsewhere, can play such a critical role to the economic health of London.”