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Horse-drawn carriages could make West End comeback
City of Westminster, London Web site - January 22, 2007

More than 70 years after horse drawn carriages were restricted from the West End, Westminster City Council has announced that it will consider supporting applications to reintroduce them for sightseeing tours across the city.

Horse-drawn tours have been a common sight across many cities in the UK and abroad, from Bath to Budapest, York to New York.

However Westminster City Council has historically opposed horse-drawn carriages due to the congestion they could cause and the capital's narrow streets.

Councillor Danny Chalkley, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Transport, said: "It's a possibilty that horse-drawn carriages tours could add to the tourism draw of the West End as long as they are properly regulated and controlled. They work in other cities and actually look rather nice, but we'd need to do a lot of research to ensure to ensure they could be a positive contribution. It's definitely a debate worth having.

"However, what we wouldn’t want is another situation like we have with pedicabs which have descended on the streets in huge numbers, unregulated and unlicensed causing disruption to some of the most congested areas of Westminster."

Any decision on the introduction on the horse drawn tours in the West End would need to be agreed by Westminster City Council, the Metropolitan Police Service and Transport for London's Public Carriage office.

Westminster City Council is currently campaigning for legislation to ensure pedicabs are properly regulated. The details will be put forward to the GLA Bill on Tuesday (23/1/07).

The suggested scheme would involve every pedicab being registered with Transport for London's Public Carriage Office, with a unique number plate which could be used for enforcement of parking and moving traffic controls.

For further information please call Charles Begley at Westminster City Council's Communications' Department on 020 7641 225

Notes to Editors:

The history of the ban on horse-drawn carriages appears to be vague, although there is substantial current legislation which would need to be addressed to lift restrictions.

The City of Westminster (Restriction of Buses) (Terminal Permit Area) Order 1996 regulates the control of where tour buses or express coaches can stand for periods of time.

The TfL Public Carriage Office (PCO) has responsibility for the licensing of all motorised taxis and private hire vehicles in London.

As horse-drawn vehicles are also deemed to be hackney carriages it would have the responsibility for licensing if such a scheme were introduced.

As it may be more appropriate for any proposed horse drawn tours to operate in St James Park, Green Park and Palace Gardens the consent of the Royal Parks Agency would also need to be required.

The City of Westminster is located in the heart of London and has the largest concentration of visitor attractions in London - including prestigious landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square, as well as most of the West End theatres and cinemas, and world famous shopping areas of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street.

It also contains 40% of London's hotels and guesthouses. Approximately 30 million people visit London each year.

It is estimated that over 95% of visitors to London visit Westminster, representing a total of approximately 28.5 million people per year.

The National Gallery and Westminster Abbey are Westminster’s most popular visitor attractions; they each attract approximately 4 million visitors per year.

Four of London's nine Royal Parks are located within Westminster.

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