Guidelines stipulating high parking charges in town centres have been abandoned. The government says this will allow councils to charge less – so how come the cost of parking is still going up?
The ‘war on the motorist’ is over, according Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond. Yes, you read that right, the government is giving the beleaguered motorist a break. Or is it?
Previously, government guidelines instructed councils to set high parking charges in town centres in order to encourage the use of public transport.
Now the guidelines have been scrapped, and councils have the freedom to set their own rates and ‘attract shoppers through setting competitive local parking charges’.
No councils cutting costs
But how many of our local councils will actually cut parking costs? At a time when our rulers are paring back public services with ruthless zeal, are councils really prepared to take a hit?
The answer, it would appear, is no. When I contacted the Department for Communities and Local Government, they weren’t aware of any councils that had decided to reduce charges.
And many councils seem to view this as a green light to increase parking costs. In London, for example, nine of the 32 councils have opted to raise revenue by hiking charges.
Keep parking charges in check
I rarely drive into town as it’s usually easier and less stressful to take the train. But when I do drive, I don’t appreciate being treated as a convenient cash cow by my council.
Motorists already pay for the roads more than twice over in car tax and fuel tax, so ‘stealth taxes’ like parking charges need to be recognised as such.
I wonder how many of those London councils actually consulted their residents (and voters) about higher charges?
If the war on the motorist is truly over, we need some new guidelines to keep parking charges in check. ‘Freedom’ and ‘small government’ do not mean the right to bleed motorists dry.
Join our Q&A about buying a new car this Friday from 11.30am and ask the Which? Car experts your questions.