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 1063.

    They pedestrianised Doncaster town centre several years ago and it's a much more attractive place to be now. Providing plentiful parking at a reasonable price is important but lets not encourage motorists back into the hearts of the towns. If they have to walk a mile from their cars to the shops it's not that far and if the town centre is attractive enough it can be a nice day out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1059.

    Pickles can't have it both ways. He starves councils of cash making them even more reliant on parking charges. They're told to reduce town centre congestion. He insisted planning guidance be reduced from 1700 pages to 70. Now he can't write new guidance fast enough. Clueless

    The answer. Give councils more money so they can reduce parking charges and give them cash to build underground car parks.

  • 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 751.

    i think there are merits to both sides of the argument. Driving into town to buy a pint of milk and a newspaper isn't necessary and the walk might do you good. However, in Brighton we are now in a situation where we automatically consider having to add 10% onto the cost of a £100 shopping trip if we take the car for more than two hours. At 20 mph!

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    I prefer using the car to the bus or train because it's easier to transport shopping home. But councils have this fixation with public transport and it's not what a lot of people want. In addition public transport is not as safe as it should be. Last time I took a bus it was full of bad mouthing youths, some smoking and daring anybody to stop them. Give me the privacy of a car any day.


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