/ Motoring

Does parking enforcement put you off your local high street?

Parking meter sign

In this guest post, Louise Ellman of the Transport Select Committee asks – would free parking encourage you to shop in your local town centre? Do restrictions and charges put you off?

Many people are concerned about the state of town centres and the demise of the British high street. There must be a number of reasons for this, including the current economic climate, local planning policy, parking policy, and business rates.

As the Chair of the Transport Committee in the House of Commons, I am interested in knowing whether policy is the culprit. What is it about parking that puts people off visiting their town centre?

I often wonder if it is the charge itself that people object to. Should parking be free? Is there such a thing as free parking? There is always going to be a cost associated with the maintenance and upkeep of a place where people can leave their cars. If we don’t pay for it through a parking charge, do we just end up paying for it through our Council Tax? Perhaps it doesn’t matter how we pay, as long as there is enough available.

Another thing that might be putting people off parking in their town centre is the fear of getting a penalty charge notice for unintentionally leaving your car in the wrong zone, or for overstaying in a pay and display space.

What’s the parking like in your local town centre?

I’ve heard from motoring organisations that people tend to be more willing to pay for parking if they feel they’re getting value for money. It’s about what the town centre has to offer the consumer as much as anything else. There must be more that can be done in partnership with local businesses to give the consumer a good deal.

In some areas free or cheap parking is used to encourage people into town centres, in others attractive offers are made eg two hours free parking when you buy a ticket at your local cinema, or 50p off when you buy coffee at your local cafe. Are there other good examples of policies like these in your local area?

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 adjudicators, and the Department for Transport Minister on 8 July. At the end of our inquiry we’ll be using all the information we have received to write a report with recommendations to Government on how to move forward with this issue. This is your chance to have a say.

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is by Louise Ellman, Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee. All opinions expressed here are her own, not necessarily those of Which?

Comments

Rather than a charge for a useful service, I feel that parking charges are either a tax or an entry fee to the business I am visiting. I therefore avoid visiting anywhere where I have to pay to park. I’d rather pay a little more in fuel than pay what is effectively a tax to a local authority.

I have also discovered that many local authorities are breaching the new Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012 because they add a surcharge for paying parking charges by credit card above the cost of paying with coins in a ticket machine or parking meter. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has provided detailed guidance on the Regulations at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/175298/13-719-guidance-on-the-consumer-protection-payment-surcharges-regulations-2012.pdf. At the top of page 5, it states that car parking offered by local authorities is included within the scope of the Regulations. Although Regulation 5(j) excludes “automatic vending machines” from the Regulations, the breach occurs where such a machine is not used.

When payment for parking is made via credit card (over the phone, by text or via a smartphone app), a surcharge (typically 20p) is made. These surcharges breach Regulation 4 of the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012 which states “A trader must not charge consumers, in respect of the use of a given means of payment, fees that exceed the cost borne by the trader for the use of that means“. It costs a percentage (typically 1% to 2%) to collect payment by credit card. In all cases, this percentage will be less than the substantial cost of collecting payment by coins. Therefore if there is to be a price difference, there can only be a discount for paying by credit card; a surcharge breaches the Regulations.

I don’t understand why anyone would rather pay for fuel, than a tax to a local authority, though I think a lot of people feel that way. There seems to be some sort of disconnect between paying tax (a thing anyone seems to want to avoid) and the things that taxes pay for (schools, roads, hospitals, etc). While paying for (and burning) fuel just funds the petrol industry and helps pollute our environment.

However, I don’t think that free parking is the way to save the highstreets. I think the highstreets have to offer something that you won’t find anywhere else. There have to be something interesting and preferably unique that makes it worthwhile going. However, most highstreets are just the same Next, H&M, Sainsbury’s Local, Pizza Express and Nando’s that you see in town after town across the country. At the same time, they are often noisy, and unpleasant because so many cars are funnelled into them, and more planning time and money seem to be focussed towards increasing the number of cars by building more car parks or offering free parking.

If people were less likely to drive to the high street, then I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it would make the high street much more appealing, and would offer something other than the noisy, lead-fumed car park environment that the massive shopping centres offer. With more investment in public transport, park and ride, and such facilities, it would also be easier for people to access these high streets for shopping, some time out or both.

If one’s shopping is too heavy or bulky to carry, most of the big shopping centres offer delivery to your door (some of them even for free).

And yet some of us can’t understand why others would use public transport when a car will do. We just need to accept we’re all different and move swiftly along, presumably to the nearest retail park. 🙂

Hi NFH, could you tell us more about the local authorities who you feel are breaking the regulations, either here or if you’d be more comfortable, by email: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us/

Thanks.

Wokingham Borough Council – Woodley Town Centre Car Parks

I don’t know if they make enough money to maintain and enforce these car parks but I choose to shop at the local major supermarket chains with free car parks. If I go to Woodley now I walk!

Simon Dent says:
26 June 2013

Parking in town centres has now become too expensive and is dettering people from going into town centres.When you look at this in comparrison to new and existing out of town retail parks where the majority of car parks are free you can see why these places have become so attractive to shoppers.If we wish to turn our towns fortunes around we must encourage local authorities to reduce prices or bring in free parking.

Royden says:
28 June 2013

Then city and town councils as well as shops wonder why the center of towns are becoming empty of shoppers.

I wonder of our elected people ever use their brains or even visits the areas they represent???

Sophie Gilbert says:
26 June 2013

Another way to look at parking charges is this: Dave’s “if I go to Woodley now I walk” must me music to traffic controllers’ ears, and environmentalists’. Too many people take the car when they could walk or use public transport.

Interestingly also, free parking or easy access by public transport aren’t panaceas (panaceae?):

(1) Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal (big shopping mall in Leith) has free parking, but its location prevents the droves you’d expect from wanting to go there, because it’s relatively far away from the centre and there are too few roads leading to it. Shopping there is actually comparatively quite pleasant thanks to the lack of crowds (and the view over the water), even around Christmas.

(2) No amount of free parking would make me want to shop in the Princes Mall, formerly known as Waverley Market, because it’s a dismal place (especially the food court). It’s right beside Waverley train station and a stone’s throw away from the bus station, smack dab in the centre of town, but it is full of empty premises that show that I’m not the only one who dislikes the place. Edinburgh Council (or whoever) keep trying to reinvent it, eg by changing its name, to no avail. I would say that a total overhaul is probably required, but we’re short of money up here because of the trams… But I won’t veer off subject any further… :0)

Waverley Market fails because it is not on the way from Waverley to somewhere. It might have seen success had the tram route been put UNDER Princes Street with access via a collonade along the North edge of Princes Street Gardens and direct access in to the basements of shops on the North side of Princes Street, plus ramps down at regular intervals Waverley Market would then be the interchange point (under cover) for Waverley Station and St Andrew Square Coach Station.

Concentrated shopping served by car access alone is a disaster in traffic management, witness the gridlock around such temple complexes during peak retailing periods. Many living in towns, where car ownership is low enjoy the less costly and much more enjoyable facility to simply walk around the corner to the shops. the mix is important in making this work. Tellingly Edionburgh has retained small shops and vitality on city streets because people continued to live in the city. At one stage only a single supermarket operated in Central Glasgow, and it shut at 18.00, as people began to return to the city, so shops returned and opening times have now improved to the extent that one can but basic shopping essentials at all times of day, and very few of these shoppers use a car. The sea change in Central Glasgow between say 1983 and 2013 makes a key pointer to how little retailing depends on having car parking for every store or street. .

As for parking itself – the law (RTA 1988) is very clear that the roads authority MUST NOT make a profit from the use of the land on which a road sits, as that land often belongs to the frontagers (only the road belongs to the council). In the same vein the council is only legally obliged to provide a road surface for traffic moving on foot or wheels, there is no requirement to provide parking at all. Relating this to urban roads especially, we have perhaps 50-60% of the costly to maintain road surfaces used to parking, or not used at all by circulating traffic. Looking at this rationally the argument has to be that a greatly reduced bill for roads maintenance might be delivered by returning the ‘unnecessary’ parts to the frontagers to manage for the parking they want so desperately – we already see this in Glasgow where both the Universities and Scottish Media Group have taken back streets that serve only their properties, and manage them mainly as car parking. So if parking is so important to retailers let them have the road space outside their premises that is not required to move traffic and let them deal with the parking supply issue – then some retailers might begin to consider the true cost to deliver a customer, and the revenue from the land used for car parking, against using it purely for retail premises.

Perhaps detail such as that employed in Boston MA where on-street stalls are underwritten by the big stores on the same street, because of the effect that the stalls have in slowing down the traffic (on foot) and diverting a portion of this in to the store. . . .

T Da says:
26 June 2013

I own a business in a once-thriving area which now charges non residents to park until 8.30pm. My restaurant has lost customers because people can park elsewhere in our city for free. The amount of revenue collected through parking charges ( with all the expenses involved in signage, enforcement, technology etc) in no way compensates for the loss to the community and city caused by this insidious tax on business. Effectively, people are charged for choosing popular areas and many feel this is unjust so they shop elsewhere. Free parking will never return now but parking charges deter customers and businesses with fewer customers struggle to continue and provide local jobs for the community.
Removing all parking restrictions wouldn’t work but charging people too much for the privilege of supporting their local businesses coupled with over zealous enforcement (which included tickets one day issued after charging ended!) will be the death of some of our local businesses.

Until there is a cost-effective solution, perhaps the best answer is to provide parking for customers.

T Da says:
26 June 2013

We have no available space to park at the premises either for our staff or customers!

I guessed that this might be the case, T Da. It is difficult to come up with a practical solution that would keep everyone happy. Having seen the chaos before parking charges were introduced, I agree that removing parking restrictions would not work. In that case, providing controlled parking and all the operating costs must be met by parking charges, unless parking is to be subsidised. I don’t see that happening and would object strongly if it did.

My solution is to walk or use public transport, including park & ride services. I have dropped off disabled people where parking is controlled, and collected them later. That is easy to coordinate in these days of mobile phones.

T Da says:
27 June 2013

Dear Wavechange
I use my car mainly for business – carrying supplies which can’t be delivered. Transporting staff and sometimes customers! My husband and I car share. Many days my car sits at home unused but when I do use it it’s full. We have one business parking permit for one car. I don’t believe car parking should be subsidised, either, but fail to understand how charges are made until 8.30pm on the street where I trade and only 6.30pm on the main road nearby which has excellent transport links and extensive parking but is almost entirely lined with high street chains. There are anomalies there which are making life more difficult for small businesses like mine.

Our council (Sheffield) has just increased city centre parking charges to £1 for half an hour. Meadow hall is not too far away and many see it as a much more attractive option with acres of free parking. I know it’s short sighted but people don’t like paying for parking and it will cost the city centre dear in lost trade and, ultimately, jobs. Parking is now a major contributor to Sheffield’s hard-hit budget and I can only see charges increasing. They aren’t just to cover costs, they make the council money. Many people are now starting to feel ripped off. They will vote with their feet and our area, Sharrow Vale, and many other like it will pay the price in lost custom. We already are.

Hopefully the council will be able to either address the discrepancy or explain the reason for it.

You are obviously doing your best in difficult circumstances. If the council is generating significant revenue from parking control then any shortfall from relaxing the regulations must be met by cutting services or increasing taxation. Parking is not something I feel strongly about, and my comments are just intended to help broaden the discussion.

T Da says:
27 June 2013

Hi
I believe that society needs people to contribute in many ways including financially. The cost of parking is more about being the straw that broke the camel’s back. Our business rates and energy costs have increased 30% in 2 years. The list of increases goes on endlessly – for everyone, I know. My customers tell me that paying to park in the evening (we don’t open daytime) for the privilege of spending their money is a step too far. Whatever I think, I have two choices- become more competitive or relocate. I love the area I trade in. I’ve known it for 30 years since I moved to Sheffield. I really don’t want to consider moving, but finances may dictate it at some stage.
I feel that genuine discussion will be in vain for some time to come because we have entered a period where finance is the overriding factor in local authority decision making. Times are tough but some of the apparently insignificant measures being taken, such as increases in parking charges in so many of our towns and cities, are going to make life tougher still in the future. Once people change their habits, it’s very difficult to maintain diversity and quality in shopping areas.
I really do hope I’m wrong.
Regards
TDa

It’s difficult to know what to suggest. It seems unlikely that parking charges will be decreased but you may find that your competitors are clobbered with parking charges in the not to distant future. From what others have said, councils seem to be using parking charges to fund other services.

I have always disliked paying more than a pound or two for parking. It does not deter me from visiting town and cities, but sometimes I do a lot of walking. I would be happy to walk a mile to visit your restaurant and would probably benefit from a bit of exercise after a long meal. I have a lot of respect for those who manage to run their lives making little or no use of cars.

Andrew S says:
26 June 2013

The high street is being killed by stupid local authority morons, who charge exorbitant rates and rents and then rub salt into the wounds by charging exorbitant parking fees, they sit about on their picklesk a***s dreaming up new ways to stealth tax motorists and shoppers alike. They are literally destroying people’s livelihoods and lives with their fiddle while Rome burns mentallity. This is often coupled with the aggressive and belligerent parking wardens, who are clearly instructed to maximize their income by dishing out tickets for the merest offense. I will never shop in any high street, the out of town experience is far superior a whole day free of charge with better shops and restaurants, and 100% of my hard earned income going to where I want it and not funding a Local Autbortiy recruitment drive or swelling tax coffers

[This comment has been edited for breaking our guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

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’re 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. I use supermarkets which provide free parking, on the internet.

Crankyacid says:
27 June 2013

So 15 years ago you (and me for that matter) were part of the problem. Part of the reason our towns and cities are nothing more than linear car parks with little to offer the casual visitor.
Maybe your local town doesn’t have much of interest and your only need is to buy the same stuff year in year out from the same supermarket or online. There is nothing wrong with that but it’s a little limited in, I don’t know, life guess.
Imagine if your town, instead of installing parking meters, had improved pavement and made walking and cycling about more pleasant perhaps you would then have been tempted to visit from time to time, if only because it was a pleasant place to be and to catch up on what’s going on. 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. If you chose to cycle in (not always possible I appreciate) you may also have found yourself feeling fitter and better than you have for years..
All if’s and suppose’s I know but you get the idea.

The off street parking charges were added upto half a mile away from the town centre. That is about the amount of walking to the shops I was happy to do. What’s the point of me paying council tax if I then have to pay to park in the the nearby town. I see very little in the way of value for what I pay, free parking was one of the few things I could see.

Crankyacid says:
27 June 2013

I don’t quite understand you argument.
Do you think all council tax payers should be subsidising your wish to park for free? Do you not get waste collection, street lighting, fire and policing and do you think your region would be better if less fortunate people were allowed to fall through a welfare net?
I’m sure most councils are hugely wasteful and we can all find things we would not want them to be spending money on but you cannot seriously be saying the only thing you got for your council tax was ‘free’ parking?
That free parking is on valuable land, roads paid for by all tax payers and demanding that everyone else should subsidise that space for you is a bit much really.

Yes they provide those services, but if you always have to complain to the council about them not being done right (rubbish all down the street, bins here there and everywhere etc) , I’d rather go without, but I can’t. My daughter spent her entire school life at private schools, so me funding local schools was of no benefit to me, but was to loads of others. I’ve never used a library yet I still fund that. Schools and libraries are on valuable land too.

There a loads of services councils provide and unfortunately we all have to contribute to them even if we don’t use them, whether we like or not.

And don’t get me started on a welfare net, 3 years unemployed and I’m still not eligible for a penny from the government. And it scares me how much I’ve paid in.

What I’m saying is free parking was one of the few services the council provide I could see a direct benefit to me. That’s all.

And as for funding the police, they should levy their own fines, alot higher than current on all offences, they’d soon generate plenty of cash to have bobbies on the street. You see crime programmes and someone is found guilty they pay court costs of say £60. Really? All the court staff get paid that little and the time the police took to put the case together ( + the 3 police cars and the police chopper). I don’t think so. Yet I don’t see the police or justice systems doing anything about at least covering their costs in putting someone to the courts. In my book they should be aiming to make a modest profit. So again its people like you and me paying for it whether we like it or not, and as you can tell I don’t particularly like it but again I have no choice.

Unfortunately the systems of government we have in place are broken, and I can’t see them reforming themselves any time soon, as it doesn’t suit the we do what we can to stay in office culture.

But back to the topic, restoring free parking now, may bring a few people back to the high street, but once they see what’s actually left they may well leave again. All it will probably do is make it easier for the people who still use the high street, as they can then buy more and have fewer trips

It’s now too late, people have been driven ( pun intended ) out of the high street and there’s now not alot left to get people back.

The only thing I can think of at the moment that would benefit from me having free parking would be an optician until a nearby superstore gets one in store.

John says:
2 July 2013

While this is off topic your comments about the police service levying their own fines are ill thought at the least. Surely your not driving at the idea that the police should be funded by the proceeds of law enforcement? The only outcome of which would be a bias system where the fundamental reasoning for the police, that of the publics safety, would be compromised by the drive to secure funding. Therefore law enforcement would only be engineered if the profit margin is enough. In such a system you can say goodbye to your bobby on the beat because really they don’t catch criminals. Rather you’d be looking at more speed cameras and traffic wardens.

While I can understand your misconception due to the unrealistic picture painted by the media in so called reality crime programmes, the idea that we’d be better off by essentially turning the public police into a private and commercial system is worrying. Service is not the main issue with private security companies, as you can see with the mistakes made by G4S at the Olympics.

Oh well, I always thought fining motorists £1k for using their mobiles would cut phone usage to almost zero, and as politicians can’t bothered to clamp down on that the police should be the ones to benefit. And there’s a T junction just down the road from me, and about 95% of motorists when turning right into it cut the corner, and its only a matter of time before someone is coming the other way. And if easy crimes to enforce like that could fund themselves and other police man then so much the better. This funding would be in addition to what councils / government pay and would be used to pay for more bobbies, and of course the police would have to keep the revenue amounts raised secret so the politicians don’t start cutting their budget as they generating their own money. But back to the drawing board for me.

I agree with John’s comments about Police funding but it’s far too late to save “the bobby on the beat”.

Phil says:
26 June 2013

Parking has killed the shopping in Croydon. On street parking here is more draconian than Westminster as the allowed parking times start at 11.30pm this killed off most of the nightclubs as designated drivers who can’t drink (and often pay more for a coke than lager) had to pay for entry after 10pm which before is free of charge.

Traffic wardens are taught to ticket first and ask questions later and anybody who has had to waste hours preparing a case to prove your innocence can confirm it’s just not worth the hassle and time off work. Best avoid the situation in the first place.

I use the multi storey car parks for short visits but these have doubled their fees recently.

I can buy products for less online spend parking fees on delivery to my door if not included and not have to wait in line. I would like to shop in the High Street but the motorist is being hit from all directions and the road tax isn’t even spent on the roads costing me a new tyre every 12 months due to bulges caused by pot holes.

The councils have generated tonnes of debt and can’t see how to pay it back. Stop hitting the honest motorist add more red light cameras, bus lane cameras, mobile phone whilst driving cameras and make parking really cheap.

Malc.Moore says:
26 June 2013

Perhaps you should ask Hinckley&District Brough Council Leics they are experts at driving away shoppers what was a busy thriving shopping street is now a virtual ghost town.It does have a good street market.I left the Town a few years ago but its just the same now quite a high percentage of charity shops and a lot of Pubs.Parking charges are hitting Stretford shopping mall in Trafford Manchester.The Town where i live there is no charge for 1st 2 hours at present and it looks like its bringing back customers but i would not hold my breath before they introduce charges for short stays
then drive shoppers away they never seem to learn.I would not be surprised if those who introduce charges do all shopping-on-line because they never learn.

Steve says:
26 June 2013

I don’t see why I should pay to park on council-owned land just so I can give money to local shops so that they can pay council rates. It’s very short-sighted of councils. (And if it’s not a council car park, remember it probably was before they sold it for an even quicker buck.)

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 councila 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.

Excessive car park charges and payment via telephone has put me off driving to two neighbouring high streets, to shop, visit the dentist, the hairdresser and several other shops. I now buy essentials in my own high street (Waitrose and M&S) and drive to a large supermarket – with large car park – about once a month for bargain buys and heavy items. I have found a dentist and hairdresser further away with their own parking.

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. They abolished this around the same time they doubled the parking charges. They tried lowering the charges recently in the hope they would draw people back – too little, too late – we have found a better way of shopping. My previous hairdresser had to close down as his customers – me included – were not prepared to pay an extra £3 – £5 for parking on top of the hairstyle fee + tip. I always paid for 2 hours parking, coins in meter. This allowed me time to visit other shops after the haircut. Over 90 mins: then cost £5.00 – way too much for my purse. Other shops closed as well and were replaced by coffee shops and a pound shop.

The changes in the local high streets, plus telephone payment, has put me off returning, despite the now quite reasonable parking charges.

My council based in Havant in Hampshire is encouraging people to go to Tesco Supermarket who own their own land, and hence provide free parking. Whereas the smaller shops are discouraged because of the ever increasing car parking charges that the Council is demanding.
The Council now wants to charge parking for anyone who is going to the Doctor’s Surgery in Hayling Island.
The Council seems to have different charging rates in many of its towns in Hampshire, such as Petersfield, Havant itself for no sensible reasons.
These charges drive me out of the small shops and out of the local towns

Below are the charges for the car park nearest my old hairdresser and dentist. I used to pay £2.00 for two hours. then it went up to £5, now it is down to £3.60, still too much for my purse. A couple of car parks have much lower charges and are at the top of the ‘NOTICE OF VARIATION OF PARKING CHARGES’ document that detailed the charges, but the rates below are applicable in most of the borough car parks.

up to Dec 2012
Current tariff (old): New tariff:
Up to 30 mins: £1.00 Up to 30 mins: £0.75
Up to 1 hour: £2.00 Up to 1 hour: £1.70
Up to 90 mins: £3.00 Up to 90 mins: £2.70
Up to 4 hours: £5.00 Up to 2 hours: £3.60
Over 2 hours: £5.00 Over 2 hours: £5.00

Carol says:
26 June 2013

I live in Croydon and often use the car parks but otherwise travel using the excellent tram service for quick trips. One of the shopping centres had charges which were very reasonable but increased them to surpress demand as there were always queues. 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.
Croydon has lost a number of national brands and the dominant department store and it will be years before the Westfield/Hammersons centre is open so I tend to do my non-grocery shopping elsewhere. Either in central London or neighbouring borough. If it had something to offer I would continue to shop there.

I might add that one of the car parks offered discount vouchers leading up to and after Christmas which I used (more than I use other coupons) so innovative ways to provide discounts or validation as some cinemas do is an idea more could try with local businesses. Local businesses have a role to play here to if they want the locations they are in to prosper!

Over the course of a year all our local streets have been converted to resident only parking with very few public spaces available, even far out of town. Residents pay for the privilege of using these. 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, where the walk to the shops is far greater than that in the out of town free park. Lack of footfall in town has persuaded the major retailers to decamp and there is now even less incentive to visit. That’s a shame because the market makes an honest attempt to sell produce of quality at reasonable prices. Carting a sack of potatoes round town is no fun. Of course speed humps and twenty mile an hour limits ( which have spread to any likely back street you can think of) make the journey to town even less appealing. Even the bus rattles and shakes now. I really have to want to go to town before I make the effort these days. Town centres need to re think their role and reinvent themselves. When people actually see their purpose as being different from the out of town mall, it will make more sense to come back in more frequently.

Wolf Simpson says:
27 June 2013

I dont drive, never have & never will. But what puts me off going to High St shops or any shops in general is poor & expensive public transport & the lack of cycle parking to park my bike in a safe/secure area where it doesnt obstruct the pavement for other shoppers. If I cant get there easily &/or lock bike up then I will go where I can.

Gaillas says:
27 June 2013

High Barnet is sandwiched between local shopping areas that provide decent periods of free or low parking charges. Introduced on our high street ,just before Christmas 2011, pay by phone parking killed trade almost overnight. Due to huge public pressure Barnet Council put a couple of parking machines into the car parks, slightly reduced charges and gave our high street two ,fifteen minute free, parking bays. Wow. Too little too late. The public have voted with their feet. We know that public opinion is on our side and we will continue to fight. Any help, ideas, gratefully received. Thank you

I hope that the 15 minute parking places are somewhere useful – such as near cash dispensers. 🙂

If free parking would not make it difficult for emergency services, refuse collection, etc, or create hazards for the public, there is no point in having controlled parking. If, on the other hand, parking has to be controlled, there will be significant costs in ensuring compliance. With the NHS, police and education short of money, the costs of operating controlled parking should really be met from revenue raised by parking charges and fines. Unfortunately, individual members of the public tend to think about what suits them and not have a useful overview of the situation.

I feel sorry for councils because they have public responsibilities and there is no way that they could possibly keep everyone happy.

We care about our cars. Why shouldn’t we? We paid a lot of money for them.

Look in any large car park and there will be cared-for cars at the back where owners are trying to park them to avoid damage from people who just fling their car doors open or scrape their trolleys down the side.

So where do people like us park?

Most multi-storey car parks are out as they have parallel parking much too close together. Street parking (perpendicular) used to be readily available but these have either disappeared or turned into resident parking only.

We use a very good park and ride but only when we intend doing a few hours shopping.

So if we want to do some quick shopping, it could be the small, limited local shops that do have free parallel parking, or we are forced to shop on the internet.

I don’t mind paying a reasonable parking fee for street parking. But most of these that are available are extortionate or limited to 30 minutes.

Unless easy cheap parking is made available in town centres, more shops will close, town centres will die, and the only shopping will be superstores, supermarkets and the internet.

I would much rather go into a shop to see what I am buying, but more and more I have to order things online as they are unavailable in the ever-decreasing number of High-Street shops.

JamesF says:
27 June 2013

Excessive parking charges is killing our high street along with many others. not only the charges but the difficulty in actually paying, with machines that only take credit cards or telephone payment

Another reason for the demise of the High Street is lack of consumer choice. 90% of many High Street Shops are made up of clothes, hairdressers, charity shops, £1 shops, restaurants and Tesco.

20 years ago, if you wanted to buy a kitchen appliance or piece of furniture, you had a selection of shops to look around and you had a wide choice of products to choose from.

Companies taking over other companies then shutting them down, companies that can afford to reduce prices forcing the competition out of business, less people employed who can afford to shop, less customers for the shops………………