Parking in cities is always a thorny issue – we have a society that is now so dependant upon the car that we see parking charges as a tax upon our freedom. Perhaps more importantly it can have a profound effect upon businesses in towns or cities with ‘draconian’ pricing policies for parking.
I blogged recently about the changes in Nottingham city centre with regards to evening parking – the City Council have decided to charge for the period between 6pm and 8pm which was previously free and Sundays as a way of controlling long-term parkers. I don’t see this at all and would suggest that it has much more to do with lining their coffers with money.
The issue of managing parking to help the local economy should be at the top of all councils list of priorities, but interestingly neighbouring Leicester City Council have taken the opposite route.
It was November that Nottingham City Council introduced evening and Sunday charges as I have outlined above – it is fair to say that it has been universally unpopular – both with shoppers, traders and the churches!
However, at the same time Leicester City Council opened up 300 free evening spaces with the explicit intention of helping the night-time economy – to me this makes total sense in these hard times.
Nottingham insist their policy was needed to stop ‘some’ motorists taking up spaces for long periods – really? They maintain this will benefit firms and attractions by keeping parking clear for short-stay visitors. My experience is that there were always spaces available before this ruling – there are now lots free as people appear to be staying away. So has Nottingham shot itself in the foot?
I believe so – the amount the city gain through parking fees will be more than lost if the businesses that pay business rates to the council fail. So come on Nottingham, look at the suburbs who started charging and see what happened to them. Put the fees back as they were now before it is too late!