What should be done about Car Parking in our Town Centres

June 22, 2020 9:43 AM

Should more free parking be available in our town centres?

Car parking charges are always a major issue. The provision of free parking in town centres works on the basis that it would give much needed support to our towns, encouraging a greater level of footfall and help provide a much-needed boost for our beleaguered high streets.

However, we must recognise that over the decades all local Councils have become reliant on the income that car parking generates. It is depressing but car parking income is really a lifeline now for so many Council services.

It is a difficult balancing act. In the continuing age of austerity, please don't be fooled by those that would have you believe the period is over, local Councils can ill afford to be cutting a potential revenue stream. This must be balanced alongside the support that we should be giving our towns, which remain key economic drivers of jobs and leisure activities - which is taking on an even greater level of importance as we emerge from lockdown. Of course, we all want to see our high streets vibrant, access to free or perhaps affordable carparking is a key issue in keeping people away from the out of town retail and leisure areas. But we can't ignore the high percentage of much needed revenue that car parking is generating for Councils across the country - revenue invested back into public services.

We need a fair system. There are so many models. Periods of free parking before charges kick in, higher charges in peak periods, trying to get the balance right between charges for the daytime and the night-time economy sharing the burden fairly. Your local Liberal Democrats will exam all models to come up with a solution that is right for our local communities. We will continue to push for better public transport options alongside free and secure cycle facilities as we seek to encourage more local journeys to be taken leaving the car at home.