Time to park idea of price hikes

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Searching for somewhere to park the people carrier in towns and cities can be a bind at times, so much so, I am more than a little surprised it doesn’t feature in those perennial ‘most stressful’ lists, alongside divorce, moving house and having to listen to Nigel Farage on BBC Question Time. Again.

Alongside the weather and Brexit, the difficulties of parking one’s motor is something we pretty much all have an opinion on. Not only does it affect motorists but it has a profound effect on the local economy, because if you can’t drive and park somewhere easily then the chances are that you won’t even bother trying.

Which is why it is baffling that councils the land over are, once again, whacking up the price of on and off street parking in the annual struggle to balance the books. We all know local authorities are under almost constant siege from the bean counters in Westminster, who are hell-bent on reducing the cost of local public services but there has to be another way of raising revenue other than pricing already hard-up families out of the town centres and into the soulless superstores which occupy out-of-town shopping centres, the enemy of community.

There are many of us who can remember when parking was free of charge and while we have moved on from leaving our vehicles on insecure scraps of wasteland, there are some councils who see car parks as the golden goose.

Unfortunately, they have stopped waiting for it to lay an egg and have long since stuck this particular goose into the oven on a very low heat.

One of the benefits of doing the job I do is that I get to meet and talk to a whole range of people across the country, especially those in business, who never tire of telling me how little help they get from their local authority, wherever it may be.

After all, if our high streets end up becoming ghost towns because cheesed-off consumers end up preferring to buy their goods online, then who will pay business rates, the rates which support our town halls to keep services such as care homes, bin collections and education going?