COMMENT: People need to have viable alternative to driving

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Parking in Portsmouth has long been an emotive issue. As more and more cars compete for spaces in this densely-populated city, tempers can fray.

For many it is a case of ‘hunt the space’ every day when they return from work or a shopping trip and try to find somewhere to park that is not a route march away from where they live.

Like them or not, residents’ permit zones were introduced to combat that kind of free-for-all, offering people improved odds of being able to park close to their home.

The problem is the cost. We reveal today how people who park their cars in permit zones in the city could end up paying £630 a year for use of a third car at the same address.

The city council proposes to increase the cost of a second and third permit at each address by £20 and £40 respectively over the next three years.

This follows a quadrupling of the third parking permit price last year.

It all means that a household with three cars within a permit zone could pay up to £880 in 2020 under the new measures – which include an additional administrative fee of £100 per multi-vehicle permit.

Little wonder that people have reacted angrily. They can’t see why the price keeps going up and say their vehicles are a necessity and they are being unfairly penalised.

Painter and decorator Michael Brown says he had to give up his third parking permit for his business van because of the cost.

Councillor Simon Bosher, the cabinet member for transport, talks about the permit charges forcing people to question whether they really need multiple vehicles.

But the problem is that people feel the alternative of public transport is just not good enough to get them out from behind their steering wheels.

That’s the big challenge. Give people a viable alternative and we stand a chance of putting the brakes on increasing car use.

But until then some people will continue to feel the permit system is being used as an income generator rather than as part of a joined-up transport plan.