BLAISE TAPP: Are councils biting the hand that feeds them?

Is there anything more annoying than thinking you have spotted a space in a busy car park, only to find it is (partially) occupied by one of those micro machines?

Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 11:53 am
Updated Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 11:57 am
Blaise Tapp says councils must understand the effect increasing parking charges has on the local economy

 Searching for somewhere to park the people carrier in towns and cities can be a bind at times, so much so that I'm surprised it doesn't feature in those perennial 'most stressful' lists, alongside divorce, moving house and having to listen to Nigel Farage on Question Time.

Parking is one of those subjects which unites us all. 

Alongside the weather and Brexit, the difficulties of parking one's motor is something we all have an opinion on. Not only does it affect motorists but it has a profound effect on the local economy, because if you can't drive and park somewhere easily then the chances are that you won't even bother trying.

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Which is why it is baffling that councils the land over are, once again, whacking up the price of on and off- street parking in the annual struggle to balance the books. We know local authorities are under almost constant siege from the bean counters in Westminster but there has to be another way of raising revenue other than pricing already hard- up families out of the town centres and into the soulless superstores that occupy out-of-town shopping centres.

Many of us can remember when parking was free but now some councils see car parks as the golden goose.

They have stopped waiting for it to lay an egg and have long since stuck this particular goose into the oven on a very low heat.

Councils have long been the target for unfair brickbats from traders who could do more to help themselves but they need to look at the bigger picture before they decide to make parking more expensive.

Wages have pretty much stood still for the best part of a decade. Economic growth is not where we would like it to be so we need to do more to support independent outlets.

If our high streets end up becoming ghost towns because cheesed-off consumers prefer to buy goods online, who will pay business rates, the rates which support our town halls to keep services such as care homes,bin collections and education going?

Parking the car is not only one of the most annoying of tasks sometimes, it is also one of the most important.