A former Man Group executive plans to leave his post as leader of the U.K.'s biggest—and certainly most prominent—local councils.
Colin Barrow will step down as leader of the Westminster City Council in March. The move comes amidst public fury at Barrow's plans to introduce parking charges for nights and weekends in Westminster, which covers many of London's most famous sites and attractions, including the House of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the National Gallery, Tate Britain and the West End, home to the city's theater district and a major chunk of its nightlife. The council also covers London's hedge fund center, Mayfair.
Barrow's plans provoked outrage, including from the Church of England, which warned the plan would cut church attendance. The "tax on nightlife" would cost Westminster businesses £800 million a year and 5,000 jobs, the Centre for Economics and Business Research claims. London Mayor Boris Johnson, a member of Barrow's own Conservative Party, called the plans "completely mad."
The parking plan is opposed by 98% of Londoners, according to one poll.
Barrow did himself no further favors by seeking to bar parking on some streets where it is currently allowed.
But the former head of investment at Man denied that the uproar was behind his decision.
"I made the decision in the middle of last year to step down when I reached 60, to devote some time to writing and lecturing," he said. "2012 makes both my 60th year and four years as leader of the council, so it is the right time to make way for a successor."
Barrow also refused to back down on his parking plans, maintaining that they are needed to "manage the roads effectively."