Parking charges could be axed

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Victory over parking charges has been declared as the government called an end to the ‘War on Motorists’.

The Department of Communities have announced they are scrapping ‘Planning Policy Guidance 13: Transport’ which was issued in 2001 and had obliged councils to set high parking charges to encourage the use of alternative modes of transport.

In November Eastleigh Councillor Louise Bloom told a public meeting that she ‘refused to apologise’ for parking charges claiming they were a part of the council’s commitment to tackle climate change.

But speaking yesterday Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said:

“For years politicians peddled the pessimistic, outdated attitude that they could only cut carbon emissions by forcing people out of their cars but this Government recognises that cars are a lifeline for many people.

This is a key step in ending the war on the motorist..”

The Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said the push to increase parking charges had been counterproductive:

“It gets people into their cars to out-of-town shopping centres, to supermarkets with free car parks, and that affects local shops,”

“So it is neither green nor good for the economy to get people to leave their local shops, that sometimes are struggling, and to drive past them to park in a place that is free of charge.”

Last month The British Retail Consortium issued a report calling council parking charges a ‘Trade Killer’ but this policy reversal means councils are now free to run parking schemes that will attract shoppers and serve the needs of the community.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles added:

“Today the Government is calling off Whitehall’s war on the motorist by scrapping the national policy restricting residential parking spaces and instructing councils to push up charges. We expect councils to follow suit”

Meanwhile Eastleigh Borough Council have already crumbled in the face of an Eastleigh News campaign for lower parking charges by allowing five days of free, on street car parking in the town centre during the week after Christmas.

N.B The Department for Transport’s Operational Guidance on Parking Policy and Enforcement maintains that charges should not be used to raise revenue or as a local tax and an authority is likely to be acting unlawfully if it were to do so.

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Photo: Matthew Myatt

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