Whenever the subject of congestion or parking in Portsmouth comes up in The News, we get a deluge of letters, emails, Facebook messages and so on in reaction.
In this age, any city which is predominantly made up of terraced streets faces the same problem, but there are few which have the issues we do here, surrounded as we are by water on all sides. Space is at a premium.
And that is why, several times over recent years, we have argued that we must look beyond just the car as a means of transport. Making it easier to cycle, making public transport more user-friendly, and improving the experience for people walking through the city have all got our vote before – because we cannot continue to see the rate of car ownership continue to increase. If it does, congestion will turn into gridlock.
However, that does not mean we would describe ourselves as anti-car or anti-driver, and we are glad that plans to extend the hours of parking charges have been dropped by the city council.
To recap, at the moment on-street parking – that paid for at a meter – ends at 6pm in many roads across the city. The plan had been to extend that until 9pm.
While there was some logic to it – in some areas it could have freed up spaces normally bagged by residents and opened them up to those visiting restaurants, for example – on the whole the councillors were right to decide that if anything it would have a detrimental effect on those same restaurants and bars.
In short, paying to park would probably put people off going at all – and would do nothing for residents.
And that’s the correct position. We all know that there are pressures on businesses – whether taxes, business rates or simply attracting customers – and free parking after 6pm is a handy perk.
It also means more people are likely to visit the seafront for an evening stroll, or join fitness classes on the common. Sometimes, the financially profitable path isn’t the right one; and we commend the council for spotting that this time around.