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 23.

    Councils often employ private firms to issue tickets to motorists, and as these people are on a money- making crusade, there is no reasoning with them. They are totally inflexible.
    They are NOT there to keep the streets clear and the traffic flowing, they exist to catch motorists out for the tiniest infraction and impose fines. Not a public service in any real sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Too little and probably too late. Councils have already destroyed many High Streets, and continue to deter potential shop keepers, with parking charges, business rates and often rents as well.

    Whilst there are some flourishing High Streets, in general the whole model doesn't work anymore. I'm afraid that in many cases Councils have killed the golden goose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I must admit that I am one of the online / superstore shoppers. We used to go into town at least twice a week but with the current economic climate we cant afford to pay £2 - £4 per hour to park with a maximum of 2 hours stay it would cost more to park that we would spend on a look around or pricing up trip.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    What we need is a sense of proportion- allow short term parking where it isn't a problem on our high streets, but come down hard on those that cause obstructions just because they won't walk 50 yards.
    And get rid of all the lines and clutter of signs that blight everywhere. there must be a simpler way of showing where parking is permitted.
    The present legislation/regulation is farcical.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    City and town centres were never built for cars. Online/superstore/retail park shopping will be the 21st century solution to our 18th Century town centres. Radical thinking is needed to work out what our town centres should look like, and a parking policy just isn't enough...


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