Parking Charges Vs You and Me

The so-called ‘war on motorists’ looks set to ease, after the government announced a programme to ease pressures on parking in Britain. The programme includes such measures as the abolition of government guidance aimed at pushing up parking charges and the removal of limits on the number of parking spaces available for homes.

The fundamental change in policy was announced on Monday by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles. The government sees such rules as unfairly penalising motorists and having produced a range of unwanted effects.

Pedestrians Affected Too

Not only have the rules placed an unreasonable burden on drivers but the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists has been negatively affected. The rules are thought to have led to problems like over-zealous enforcement of parking regulations and a higher level of unsightly and dangerous on-street parking congestion.

Planning restrictions Removed

From Monday, 3 January, ministers removed national planning restrictions that have been in place since 2001. Restrictions included requiring councils to limit the numbers of parking spaces available in new residential developments. The old guidance, now scrapped, was also aimed at getting councils to set higher parking fees, in a bid to push people onto alternative forms of transport.

Councils and communities are now given the freedom to set parking policies considered more suited to their own areas. Parking charges can now be set based on conditions such as the expected effect on the strength of the local economy and retailing.

Would Cheaper Parking Attract You?

Councils now have autonomous powers to set competitively low parking rates in order to attract more shoppers, should that be a council’s strategy. Councils will no longer need to consult with Whitehall over such matters.

Electric Car Benefits

The government also announced its desire for councils to promote charging points for electric vehicles in new developments. Such a policy could help foster expanded use of green vehicles. The new policy to cultivate easy access to charging points is being supported by a relaxation in planning rules. Charging points will be allowed along streets and at outdoor car parks without any need to receive planning permission.

Micromanagement

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Minister, said that Britain’s streets and traffic had suffered as a result of Whitehall’s ‘addiction to micromanagement’. He said parking had become a nightmare, with stressed-out motorists having to run a gauntlet of soaring parking charges, unfair parking penalties, and a complete lack of residential parking. Mr Pickles said Whitehall’s policies had resulted in pavements and verges being packed with cars sitting on kerbs. The net effect was increased risk to cyclists, pedestrians and drivers, as well as increased resentment from the public towards over-zealous parking wardens and ever-higher fines and charges.

You Wont Reduce C02 by putting up prices!

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the latest move was a key step towards ending the war on motorists. He criticised what he saw as years of a ‘pessimistic, outdated attitude’ having been sold by politicians who thought they could reduce carbon emissions by forcing motorists out of their cars. Mr Hammond went on to say that the government recognised that automobiles provide a lifeline for many people. He said that support for the next generation of ultra-low emission and electric vehicles could allow sustainable green motoring to become a long-term component in the UK’s transport planning.

Greg Clark, the decentralisation minister, pointed out that restricting the number of garages and drives available for new homes does not make cars disappear. He said it simply clogs up residential streets with parked cars. This leads to motorists having to drive around in search of rare parking spaces, increasing traffic congestion and raising the risks of fly parking. The increased congestion and congested parking creates a dangerous environment, in which blind spots and narrowed roadways impede emergency vehicles and make life more dangerous for pedestrians.

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