Councils across England should encourage the use of cars in towns by offering more parking and reducing the number of speed bumps, communities secretary Eric Pickles has said.

Unveiling new planning guidance for local councils, Mr Pickles said “draconian” parking policies and “over zealous” traffic wardens had meant high streets had been losing out as people turn to out-of-town shopping centres and the Internet for their shopping.

The planning guidance, which is due to be unveiled in full this week, also states that councils should set parking charges in a way that doesn’t undermine the local economy.

Councils have hit out at Mr Pickles’ comments, saying that such Government intervention makes it more difficult for them to meet local parking needs.

"Parking charges should be appropriate and not undermine the vitality of town centres and local shops, and parking enforcement should be proportionate," the report says.

It also urges restrained use of street furniture including lighting, railings, litter bins, paving and fountains, and to ensure they are "well designed and sensitively placed".

"Unnecessary clutter and physical constraints such as parking bollards and road humps should be avoided," the document continues.

Speaking ahead of the report’s unveiling, Mr Pickles said: "Town halls need to ditch their anti-car dogma. Making it easier to park will help support local shops, local jobs and tourism."

He went on to say how a lack of parking is increasing congestion in town centres and stress amongst motorists.

However, the Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, has criticised the plans as unworkable.

"Councils work hard to try and boost trade and keep High Streets vibrant through parking incentives such as free short-stay, cheaper evenings and free Sundays.

"Creating more spaces in town and city centres where there is no room for them is simply not the way to draw more shoppers to the High Street.

"Parking measures help avoid congestion in our high streets.

"In fact, the government's own figures show charges in England are falling in real terms while councils invest any revenue back into transport services like filling potholes and road improvement projects.”

Do you think easing parking restrictions will boost the local economy? Should cars be banned from town centres all together? Have your say below.

Daljinder Nagra


August 27, 2013