This week we invited Louise Ellman of the Transport Select Committee to start a discussion about parking charges in local town centres. So do they put you off shopping locally?
As the Chair of the Transport Committee in the House of Commons, Louise Ellman is keen to canvas your views on whether parking enforcement are killing our high streets.
The anecdotes soon started pouring in, with many of you explaining how parking charges have had dramatic effects on your local shopping areas.
William says this has been happening for a long time in his area:
‘I used to shop in my local town centre once a week, I used to park in local side roads. Then one day the council made all side roads pay and display. Not to worry you just park further out, but wait they were all pay and display too. So I stopped going. That was about 15 years ago. I now visit the town centre once or twice a year if that.’
Crankyacid tries to see how things could be done differently:
‘Imagine if your town, instead of installing parking meters, had improved pavements and made walking and cycling about more pleasant. Perhaps you would then have been tempted to visit from time to time. Maybe you would have used the opportunity to shop at somewhere independent so you had a bit of variety. You certainly would enjoy the savings to be made from using a local grocer for fruit and veg compared to a supermarket.’
Should parking be free?
Steve thinks this particular question is a no-brainer:
‘If parking was free, or a very nominal amount payable to combat abuse of the system, shoppers would flock to town centres. It’s as if councils aren’t aware that consumers now have a free alternative place to shop in their living rooms. Mary Portas isn’t the answer to everything! Try common sense once in a while.’
Figgerty says that even a bit of free parking would help:
‘My local council at one time had free parking on Sundays, this brought much needed business to our shops and allowed us to spend more time shopping without worrying about parking time.’
Carol doesn’t mind paying if she gets value for money:
‘If I can find what I want in the town centre I don’t mind paying the parking charges as I am getting a service, and expect to pay for the services I receive. However if the car park is poorly lit, dirty and smelly, which the council operated car park is, then I will not use it as my experience is not a good one.’
For Vynor Hill, parking needs to be convenient:
‘Driving in, one has to make sure there are coins in the pocket sufficient for the car parks where the machines have minds of their own. This is similar to a gnat bite, not major in itself, but annoying enough to make one think twice about going into town.’
Let’s make high streets more pleasant
For many, the reason they have abandoned their high street is because it lacks appeal. Jason says we need to focus on reducing cars to make it a more pleasant experience:
‘The worst thing to happen to our high streets is the dominance of the private car. You can’t move on the pavements or cross the road without being in serious danger – how safe do you feel taking your kids with you? And the noise and air quality is not something to be desired.’
Farnie believes that high streets need to become ‘destinations’:
‘When will people start valuing their space? Competing with shopping centres where parking is free will never work. The idea is doomed to fail. We need to work on making high streets places people want to be. Real destinations. The local crematorium is free, but it doesn’t mean I want to go there.’
Incentives for cyclists?
And many cyclists would like to see better access and incentives for those travelling by bike, like Fred:
‘I would like to be able to cycle rather than drive to my local shops. Unfortunately, there are no good (safe) bike routes in the town – and, the council has just decided not to fund any further cycling proposals. Bikes are a great way to make short shopping journeys – they take up much less road and parking space than cars, they don’t pollute, they reduce congestion.’
Gazza_d has more success cycling to his shops but thinks he should get recognition for it:
‘I cycle to my local shops as much as I possibly can as most of the time it’s quicker and a lot less hassle than driving and looking for a space.
‘When parking is provided free though, then I am effectively subsidising those car drivers as the cost of the land and car park maintenance is built into the shopping I buy. People riding bikes should receive a discount.’
Do any of these views ring true for you? As Louise explained in her Conversation:
‘I’m keen to hear directly from consumers because our Committee is in the middle of an inquiry into local authority parking enforcement. Comments from you will help to inform the questions we put to representatives of local authorities, the parking adjudicators, and the Department for Transport Minister on 8 July.’
So this is your chance to have your say – and for it to be listened to…