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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Free winter parking for East Devon? ................................ The arguments for and against 'free parking'

Last Christmas, parking fees were substantially lowered in East Devon and beyond:
Futures Forum: 'Celebrate an Independent Christmas'
Futures Forum: "Discount parking for Small Business Saturday"

However, the District Council's car-parking charges make up 30% of its income:
Futures Forum: Parking in East Devon: where and how much...
Parking charges all add up for EDDC - News - Midweek Herald
Futures Forum: Parking in East Devon: where and how much... continued
Devon Councils making millions from car parking | Exeter Express and Echo

Meanwhile, car-parking at supermarkets is generally free:
Futures Forum: Parking in East Devon: where and how much... part two
Parking should be free | SadButMadLad's Blog
WHAT'S WRONG WITH SUPERMARKETS? : 5 - Bye-bye High Street | Corporate Watch

On the one hand, there have been campaigns to make car-parking free in town centres - to revitalise the high street: 
BBC News - Mary Portas unveils report into High Street revival
Futures Forum: Can anyone save the High Street?

On the other, there are concerns that free car-parking would simply lead to greater congestion:
News from Darren Johnson AM: London gets congested, as Government demands more car parking | Greater London Authority
Easing of parking rules will lead to traffic congestion, warn campaigners | Politics | theguardian.com

The District Council has put its own report together on the future of the high street:

Vitality of High Streets and Town Centres
Task and Finish Forum

Final Report: September 2012

It would be foolish to believe that the present problems experienced in our town centres will disappear once our economy begins to recover.  Many town centres have been facing steady decline over the last fifty years. Supermarkets have had a big impact, but the problems have been compounded in some areas as older towns were not designed for the car and local authorities have increasingly perceived parking charges as a useful source of income.

This report identifies some issues that may help town centre vitality but the fundamental matter that needs to be addressed is the lack of competitiveness of town centre shops compared with out of town shopping.  Despite the view of valuation officers, we conclude that rate valuations favour large out of town stores. Such stores also provide free convenient parking compared with expensive and sometimes inadequate parking in town. This is an issue that has to be resolved if town centre shopping is to survive.

An obvious discrepancy relates to parking.  Out of town stores provide parking free to customers and as this parking therefore does not generate income, it does not affect rateable value.  However, in town parking in this area costs shoppers significant amounts of money.  It could be argued that much of it acts as a tax on shoppers and is a valuable source of income to local authorities such as the East Devon District Council. It is an implicit surcharge on in‐town shopping that is not experienced by out of town shoppers.  In many parts of this district, it may well add a cost of 5% to the average shopping trip.

With such discrepancies in shopping costs it is scarcely surprising that town centres suffer. possible remedy would be place a charge on out of town shopping spaces either through the rating system or a direct local authority charge.  If this were done one would expect in‐town parking charges to be reduced so that local authorities were not accused of exploiting shoppers generally (and thus further benefitting internet shopping).  We recommend that the Council pursue with Government the case for either introducing a rateable value increase on the basis of private parking spaces or allowing councils to make an annual charge for such spaces.

Vitality of High Streets and Town Centres Task and Finish Forum

The East Devon chambers of commerce are very clear about what should be done...
This is from the Honiton edition of the Pulman's free newspaper for East Devon:

EAST DEVON: Bid for free winter parking

7th October 2014
By Jack Dixon jack@pemedia.co.uk

PARKING charges should be wiped out in Honiton during the winter months in a bid to boost town centre trade, business leaders have said.

In a letter to East Devon District Council, which owns and manages many of the town’s car parks, senior members of the Association of East Devon Chambers of Commerce (AEDCC) have urged the authority to take action by relaxing charges across the district.

East Devon residents should be allowed to park in council car parks free of charge during January, February and March in order to keep market towns like Honiton “busy and bustling”, they claim.

Business leaders point to the success of similar schemes in Lyme Regis and Topsham - which they say are tempting shoppers “over the border” to spend their money - and have called for a “change of direction” in East Devon.

“We are concerned that, in the first three months of the year, business is poor in East Devon’s towns and we are worried that some businesses are choosing not to open their doors”, AEDCC members said in a letter to the council. Just across the border in West Dorset, Lyme Regis Town Council are again introducing free parking for residents over the winter period. AEDCC are suggesting that a similar scheme, introduced across East Devon, would hugely improve the viability of town centre businesses.”

Improve atmosphere in towns

Under the recommendations, residents would obtain their free parking permits by producing council tax bills and car registration documents, allowing them to park without charge for up to three hours.

The scheme would be likely to add as much as 35 per cent to the takings of businesses and would “greatly improve the atmosphere” in East Devon’s towns at a relatively low cost to the council, business leaders say.

They added: “We want to restore the role of our towns as places where people congregate, and the caf├ęs and restaurants are busy and congenial. This in turn will attract visitors from outside the district who prefer to come to towns that are warm and welcoming. This proposal would stimulate the local economy, make things easier for residents and bring life back to our town centres.”

Last month, the Government announced new measures to enable residents to challenge local authorities on unpopular parking decisions.

A petition containing at least 50 signatures from local people, or 10 per cent of businesses affected, will now trigger an automatic review of a parking policy.

The proposals are designed to give residents greater say in the management of parking in their area – a change business leaders in Honiton have long campaigned for.

Colin Wright, Chairman of the Honiton Chamber of Commerce as well as the AEDCC, said: “We have a real problem in Honiton with people having to leave the shops early to rush back to their cars. Shopkeepers are finding it very difficult to attract customers who want to spend a whole day in the town centre. Local authorities across the country are lowering charges in response but in East Devon they are going up. It is time for a change of direction.AA"


View From Online - News from West Dorset, East Devon & South Somerset

There are some interesting ideas out there on parking and the vitality of the high street:



Free Parking or Free Markets

Donald Shoup April 4, 2011

In his book Great Planning Disasters, Sir Peter Hall defined a great planning disaster as a planning process that costs a lot of money and has gone seriously wrong. Urban renewal and high-rise public housing are classic examples. Many things in life cost a lot of money and go seriously wrong, however, so how does a great planning disaster differ from a great moviemaking disaster or a great catering disaster? One major difference is that individual investors, producers, or caterers bear the cost of their disasters. With a great planning disaster, almost everyone loses something.

Government regulation of the parking market is another great planning disaster. In this essay, I argue for a market-based solution to parking problems, drawing on the preface to the forthcoming paperback edition of my book The High Cost of Free Parking . I recommend in the book: (1) setting the right, demand-based price for curb parking, (2) returning the parking revenue to pay for local public services, and (3) removing minimum parking requirements.


Free Parking or Free Markets | Cato Unbound


Does the high street really need saving?

Graham Ruddick 29 Aug 2013

The focus of the reviews by Portas, Grimsey and the Government should be to create the environment to facilitate this natural evolution of the high street, not hanker for a bygone era.

There are plenty of things they can fight for. The lack of free short-stay car parking is affecting the number of people who visit the high street, while the existing business rates system encourages landlords to put charity shops into units and creates an imbalance between online and physical retailers that threatens to distort the shape of the high street.

In addition, supermarket chains such as Tesco should be seen as a means of attracting people to the high street, not destroying it, while Portas’s idea that every town should create a development group to oversee a plan for the high street should be supported. This idea can lead to space being dedicated to initiatives such as PopUp Britain, championed by the Chancellor earlier this week in London’s West End, which offers rent-free space to start-up retail businesses.

Finally, it must also be recognised that, despite the background of Portas and Grimsey, retail is only part of the high street – and it is probably an even smaller part of the future.


Does the high street really need saving? - Telegraph

See also:
Futures Forum: What transport infrastructure do we want for East Devon?
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