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Draconian parking policies? Councils hit back at Eric Pickles
TOWN hall bosses have hit back at government claims they are putting motorists off high streets with “draconian” parking policies and excessive charges.
Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, said he would force councils to make high streets more car-friendly with new planning guidance.
This will state that town centre parking must be “convenient, safe and secure” and that parking charges and enforce-ment should be appropriate.
“Confusing and difficult car parking practices are under-mining the economic vitality of the high street and tourist destinations,” he said.
“Over-zealous parking wardens have inflicted real damage on local economies and given many towns and councils a bad name.”
But both Bournemouth and Poole councils refuted his claims.
Poole cabinet member Cllr Xena Dion said they recognised the importance of parking to the commercial vitality of the town centre but also needed to encourage people to use buses, cycle or walk.
“We will always encourage people into the town and continually work to make Poole a pleasant environment to live, work, visit and do business.
“We are currently reviewing our planning guidance in the town centre to ensure more emphasis is placed upon this in future.”
And she added: “While we can understand the desire for our parking charges to be as low as possible to support local businesses, it has to be recognised that this income is an essential part of the council’s finances.”
And Mike Holmes, planning and transport service director at Bournemouth council, said they worked in partnership with local businesses to maintain the town’s “competitive edge.”
“For example this is the fourth successive year where there has either been no increases in any parking charges whatsoever, or where any small increases have been balanced off against reductions, making it cheaper to park in Bournemouth than neighbouring authorities,” he said.
“We are also working on a number of initiatives to improve specific areas of the town, such as Horseshoe Common as part of the Three Towns Travel project, where we are seeking to make the area safer and more attractive to increase footfall to support businesses.”
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