Ditch 'anti-car dogma' and boost parking, councils told

Traffic warden in London Mr Pickles criticised "over-zealous" parking wardens for "inflicting real damage on local economies"

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Councils in England should provide more parking spaces in town centres and cut down on speed humps, the secretary of state for communities has said.

New planning guidance will also say councils should ensure parking charges do not "undermine" local economies.

"Draconian" parking policies and "over-zealous traffic wardens" had driven motorists into internet retailers and out-of-town stores, Eric Pickles said.

Councils said such intervention made it harder for them to meet local needs.

The guidance, which is due to be published this week, says: "The quality of parking in town centres is important; it should be convenient, safe and secure.

"Parking charges should be appropriate and not undermine the vitality of town centres and local shops, and parking enforcement should be proportionate."

It urges councils to ensure that street furniture including lighting, railings, litter bins, paving and fountains are "well designed and sensitively placed".

"Unnecessary clutter and physical constraints such as parking bollards and road humps should be avoided," it adds.

'Economic damage'

"Draconian Town Hall parking policies and street clutter can make driving into town centres unnecessarily stressful and actually create more congestion because of lack of places to park," Mr Pickles said.

Start Quote

Creating more spaces in town and city centres where there is no room for them is simply not the way to draw more shoppers”

End Quote Local Government Association

"Anti-car measures are driving motorists into the arms of internet retailers and out of town superstores, taking their custom with them.

"Over-zealous parking wardens have inflicted real damage on local economies and given many towns and councils a bad name.

"Town Halls need to ditch their anti-car dogma. Making it easier to park will help support local shops, local jobs and tourism."

But a spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, said: "Councils work hard to try and boost trade and keep High Streets vibrant through parking incentives such as free short-stay, cheaper evenings and free Sundays.

"Creating more spaces in town and city centres where there is no room for them is simply not the way to draw more shoppers to the High Street.

"Parking measures help avoid congestion in our high streets.

"In fact, the government's own figures show charges in England are falling in real terms while councils invest any revenue back into transport services like filling potholes and road improvement projects.

"The more government continues to intervene in this way, the less flexibility local authorities have to react to the individual needs of local shoppers, residents and traders and support local businesses and High Streets in their area."

The government says the new guidance is part of an online guide that replaces 7,000 pages of previous "planning practice guidance" documents, and also part of a wider initiative to support parking and local shoppers.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    142 is spot on. The LGA vainly tries to excuse past errors. It defends the indefensible.It should examine it's navel and listen to criticism.When you recognise a problem you are half way there. Come on LGA be honest to yourselves.I own a shop in Rotherham.Even good work via Portas scheme can't compete with stressfree parking at Meadowhall.To have a chance they must end parking fees altogether

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    I'm not really sure what people want from the 'high street'. Most stuff people buy these days is tat that isn't really needed the latest phone etc. Yes a butchers a bakers a green grocers would be nice, but other than these things what do people actually want? A good Junk shop is always nice, but I don't know what people want, please tell me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    We're spent the last 60 years trying to accommodate the ever-increasing number of cars in our cities - and that policy has inevitably failed. As population and car ownership per head increases here simply isn't enough space in cities for them. the only realistic, long term solution is to remove cars from cities and replace them with good quality public transport, walking and cycling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    Interesting reading everyone moaning about their local council on here. To those that are:

    When is the last time that you spoke to your local councillor?

    Do you know their name?

    Did you vote for them?

    Did you vote for someone else?

    Local councils are made up of local councillors who interface with local residents and taxpayers. If we don't talk to them then they won't listen to us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    I was issued with (as they turned out) two illegal parking tickets by our local council. I now use the bus (bus pass I'm old and grumpy and it's free!) The town centres will die and the councils will find other ways of milking us! Why do we need councils anyway, for more than just to provide basic essential services. Too many jobsworths and non jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    Perhaps parking charges should only reflect the cost running of parking services.

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    765. Rockahula

    If your embarrassed to be British - why not take advantage of current EU laws and move somewhere else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    In my small Scottish town we have speed bumps outside the school, but they're placed in such a way that it's easy to avoid them. You can just rally between them at 40 and have no effects at all. They were a colossal waste of money and completly useless.

    On the other hand, the ones outside the academy are so high that the paint comes off my bumper at 10mph. why isn't there a standard speed bump?

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    Govt could incentivise councils to promote business by permitting them to retain business rates. Too easy for local councils to soak motorists using parking charges on their(??) land /roads. If more measures needed to balance budgets, there are still other options. Authorities have prioritised their employees' job security by avoiding real cuts to inessential but politically correct services.

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.

    Why would I want to shop in my local town anyway? Every other shop is a bookie or a phone shop. The high street is dead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    Hmn let me think,bus fare for a family of 4 runs at £20 here to go one way into town,by train its £35,car it costs £5 maybe if I wanted to park in town itself £2.40 to park,if I wanted to go to a supermarket/diy/home furnishings store/electricals,it costs nothing. Which do I chose...? Its a no brainer.Town centres and the govt push to stop us using them has killed them off, Pickles is too late

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    Eric Pickles clearly uses a car and not his legs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    This is a symptom of local democracy, or more appropriately, the lack of it. In the main, councillors are unaccountable, & know it.This leads to the creation of personal fiefdoms (Liverpool in the 80's) that inhabit a planet in a galaxy far, far away.In the past councils have declared themselves "nuclear free zones".Now we get councils declaring their town centres car free zones. Eejits one & all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.

    Local councils are not anti car, they are anti citizen. All they care about is making as much income as possible and enacting laws and by laws that make no or little sense. Local councils are the biggest users of Bailiff company's to collect every penny they decide they are owed. The prime example of a little power going to the head. Most of them couldn't hold down a proper job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    Speed humps damage car suspension and have far less of an effect on larger cars such as 4x4s which are also far more likely to kill a pedestrian. They should remove all speed humps and actually enforce the limit via cameras in 20 and 30 zones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    It's all about having a balance but currently the ability to park in town is hugely discouraged by expensive parking. Yes public transport and cycling provision is important, but so are cars, largely used by working tax paying people who have limited time and most likely to spend more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    It's high time town planning authorities looked at realities rather than their dream ideas. I live 5.2 miles from the town center if I want to use public transport I have to walk approx 1 mile along a busy main road to the bus stop and then back home loaded with shopping. Or I can shop on line and have the goods delivered to my door. Hmm let me think....can't remember last time I went into town!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    No one enjoys dodging traffic or being suffocated by fumes when out shopping. Centres need to be pleasant environments which are risk free. Pedestrianisation can help, but getting to to the shops easily is equally important. Cars are the mode of choice for convenience, timing and buying bulky or heavy items. Cheap and easy parking is essential. Otherwise customers will vote with their feet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    We have out-of-town shopping centres for cars, and in-town shopping centres for those on foot, cycle, taxi or public transport. Of course that rich tubby Tory would never go on foot, by bus or bike, so can't represent the voters. When he puts on another few pounds he'll get a disability badge so he can park where he likes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 776.

    The last time I took a bus it was wonderful; all the ladies sitting along the aisle searched in their purses to find change for me and the driver was full of the joys of summer..


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