FSB Calls for Town Centre Parking Rethink

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The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on local authorities to rethink town centre parking policies ahead of the local elections in England and Wales in May.

The UK’s biggest business organisation said that the practice of local authorities using excessive parking charges to raise revenue is killing town centres. Local authorities made £1.6 billion from parking charges and fines in 2005, up from £628 million in 1997.

The FSB warned that short term revenue-raising by local authorities through draconian town centre parking laws would backfire in the long term as high street shops go out of business and the wealth and employment they create is lost. The FSB’s Small Business Manifesto for the local elections calls for sensible parking policies that encourage shoppers to use small independent shops on the high street. MPs estimate that 2,000 small shops cease trading every year.

Barbara Ellenbroek, FSB Cornwall’s Retail Spokesman said:

“As part of the FSB Keep Trade Local Campaign it is vitally important that local authorities really understand the impact car parking charges have on the viability of town centres.

In a predominantly rural area like Cornwall it is a fact that most people rely on their cars to get to the shops. Given too that prices in shops are increasing and people have less disposable income due to the global Credit Crunch the additional cost of parking in a town centre can be a big disincentive when making a decision as to where consumers do their shopping.

There are good examples of Local Authorities supporting their local towns in Cornwall, such as Caradon District Council, where local residents are able to benefit from concessionary charges in District Council car parks.

I would encourage both Local Councils and Councillors to commit to actively working with the local Business Community in order to establish the real consequence of excessive car park charges, and to come to a solution that works for both the Business Community and the Local Tax payer – remembering that in many cases local business and their employees are also local tax payers.”

From a national perspective, Roger Culcheth, FSB Local Government Chairman, said:

“Every town is different and you can’t impose exactly the same parking policies everywhere. But local authorities should come up with a set of criteria for parking policies that encourage shoppers into town centres rather than turning them away.

“Although parking restrictions can raise a lot of cash in the short term, they can be extremely damaging to local economies and ultimately counter-productive, as shops in town centres begin to close.

“Spiraling town centre parking costs and huge fines must be done away with permanently. The local elections in England and Wales are a perfect opportunity for local authorities to show their commitment to the town centres they have so much influence over.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  1. The FSB’s Small Business Manifesto can be found at: http://www.fsb.org.uk/documentstore/filedetails.asp?ID=397.
  2. The FSB is Britain’s biggest business organisation with over 210,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk.