Parking:Written question - 228091

Asked on: 18 March 2015
Department for Communities and Local Government
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, with reference to his Department's announcement, Government delivers on parking promises to help local shops, published on 6 March 2015, if he will take further steps to ensure that local authority parking schemes are more advantageous to motorists.
Answered by: Penny Mordaunt
Answered on: 25 March 2015

Higher parking charges and more parking fines were the explicit policy of the Labour Government.

  • Labour Ministers called for councils to charge for more services, including parking, bemoaning that: ‘Only one in five councils are using charging to the full potential... [such as for] reducing congestion’ (Speech to the Local Government Association, 2 July 2008).

  • Planning guidance issued by the Labour Government in 2001 (PPG13) told councils to hike parking charges and adopt aggressive enforcement to discourage drivers.

  • Labour Ministers asserted: ‘The local government sector already has significant powers to raise revenue through fees and charges in return for the provision of services, and many councils have used this mechanism extensively to support local service delivery (for example through parking charges… The Government supports councils in looking creatively at the scope offered by fees and charges’ (DCLG, Government response to the CLG Select Committee report into the balance of power: central and local government, 18 September 2009).

Yet unreasonable parking charges and fines push up hard-working people’s cost of living. If parking is too expensive or difficult, shoppers will simply drive to out of town supermarkets or just shop on-line, undermining the vitality of town centres and leading to ‘ghost town’ high streets. This Government has rejected the Labour policy of encouraging higher parking charges and aggressive parking enforcement, and has been standing up for hard-working people and local shops.

Since 2010, we have:

  • Scrapped Labour’s Whitehall policy that pressured councils to hike car parking charges as a ‘demand management measure’ to discourage car use.

  • Removed Whitehall restrictions which restricted the provision of off-street parking spaces, and issued new national planning policy to discourage unnecessary restrictions on parking spaces being provided in new developments.

  • Abolished Labour’s Whitehall policy which inhibited parking charge competition between council areas, and instead introduced a new policy that says parking charges should not undermine the vitality of town centres, and stated that parking enforcement should be proportionate;

  • Issued new planning practice guidance on removing street clutter and encouraging the provision of shopper-friendly parking space provision.

  • Introduced the local retention of business rates, which means that councils benefit from business and retail growth in town centres, rather than just hiking parking charges.

  • Increased parking transparency through the local government Transparency Code so councils are required to publish how income from parking charges is being used.

  • Stopped the industrial use of CCTV for parking enforcement: this will commence in April following the Deregulation Bill receiving Royal Assent.

  • Introduced a mandatory 10 minute “grace period” at the end of on-street and off-street, free and paid municipal parking.

  • Introduced a new right to allow local residents and local firms to demand a review of parking in their area, including charges and the use of yellow lines.

  • Changed guidance so drivers parking at an out-of-order meter are not fined if there are no alternative ways to pay.

  • Reformed statutory parking guidance so it is less heavy handed with drivers, prevents over-aggressive action by bailiffs, positively supports local shops and clearly reinforces the prohibition against parking being used to generate profit.

  • Updated guidance so the public know when they can be awarded costs at tribunals; strengthened the power of adjudicators to overturn parking fines; frozen parking fines in this Parliament; the Government will also be trialling a 25% discount for motorists who lose an appeal against a parking ticket at tribunal on the full price of their parking ticket

My Department has now taken on the policy responsibility for off-street parking, both municipal and on private land. We will consult shortly on areas where we can intervene to tackle unfair practices. We will also address the issue of local authorities not offering any cash payment facilities in municipal parking.

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