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Issue 343 – Government report backs parking plea

IN her government commissioned report, retail guru Mary Portas recommends that high streets should have some level of free parking – but it appears that Mendip District Council are not going to budge on their car parking arrangements.
Mary Portas released her review into the future of the country’s high streets last month.

In her report, Mary Portas says, “To remove controlled free parking from our town centres puts them at a massive competitive disadvantage.
“In these times of financial hardship and public spending reductions, it is clear to me that local councils will have a firm eye on the things that drive revenue, parking clearly being one of them. Yet I fundamentally believe that to increase the cost of parking in a locality (when there are alternatives offering free parking elsewhere) is to curtail the appeal of that location to the shopping consumer and therefore the longer term economic viability and wellbeing of the area.”
Mary Portas suggests towns should have free controlled parking schemes but despite this, Mendip District Council does not appear to have any intention of reintroducing any measure of free parking.
In November, Mendip District Council’s Cabinet gave the green light to plans to raise charges by 7.5% in February.
A spokesperson for Mendip District Council said, “Mendip District Council’s cabinet agreed a number of proposals relating to car parks at a recent meeting, these were the recommendations put forward by the cross party car parks working group (CPWG).
“The council is committed to supporting business development and growth, we are aware that no one wants to see car park charges increase in the district, but the list of recommendations put forward are necessary.
“Mendip’s Cabinet took the decision to delay the increase until after Christmas and the new rates will not come into effect until the beginning of February. Further to this the council implemented free car parking in the afternoons in the build up to Christmas, to support traders during the festive period.
“The CPWG will continue to review the car parking strategy and further amendments may be made in the future. It is important to remember that this it the first ‘across the board’ increase since 2008 and the council has not increased car park charges in line with inflation, as this would see increases of almost 9 per cent, which the council recognises would be too much for car park users to take on and could affect business development and growth across the district.”

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