A Senior Moment: Bashing the motorist is a wrong turn for the high street

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The truth will out, and I don’t mean horsemeat in beef-burgers. If you’ll forgive the pun, that particular stable door remains well and truly open and I suspect we’ll soon be looking with suspicion at just about everything in the food chain from cornflakes to custard powder.

No, this is another scandalous revelation which is also all down to that great god of money.

I read recently that David Sparks, chairman of the Local Government Association’s transport board has at last come clean on the fact that councils have been pushing up parking charges to keep council taxes down, resulting in a thumping great 15 per cent increase in profits.

The admission – apparently buried in evidence given to the Commons public accounts committee – showed councils in England had made £411million profit from parking and penalties for the year ended March 2012, while at the same time spending on highways and transport was reduced by 6 per cent, capital spending on road building by 13 per cent and road safety spending by 18per cent – so much for all those assurances the extra income is used to improve our transport facilities.

But the news will come as no surprise to millions of hard-pressed motorists 
and the words ‘milked’ and ‘cash cow’ spring readily to mind.

I know local authorities are under immense financial pressure, but aren’t we all? Bashing motorists over the bonnet with another imposition is not the right way to win friends and influence people.

We hear much lamenting about problems in the high streets but increased parking charges will not solve any problems – simply adding to them.

We also hear of money being spent on fancy ideas to help high street shops, but most of the good ones – ideas that is – are just plain common sense.

Surely we shouldn’t need to pay for the obvious? The apparent success of subsidised parking charges in Uppingham (Mercury February 8), seems to bear witness to the proposition that lower charges mean better business.

Equally, the fact that nearly 1,000 parking tickets were issued in Stamford in two months can hardly be considered a tourist attraction destined to appear in the visitor brochures.

We need some lateral thinking here to provide low cost convenient parking for visitors and residents alike, not schemes designed to make more profits for profligate councils!