A great post on car parking in London from Freewheeler.
On a similar note, reported in the Guardian, in Leeds there have been calls to cut Leeds city centre parking charges. Leeds Liberal Democrat leader Stewart Golton said "I've no doubt that cutting car parking charges would encourage more people to visit city and district centres. We need to give shoppers from this city and beyond yet another reason to spend their money in Leeds."
In York, in perhaps the most ironic story ever, "a proposed eco-town project in York would bring more traffic gridlock without vital cash for new Park & Ride sites, according to a new report."
The problem all over the UK is that councils depend on parking as a revenue stream, yet large supermarkets and out-of-town developments are allowed to offer free parking. So councils face a dilemma: if they raise parking charges, this will kill off in-town businesses. If they lower them, this will cause city-centre congestion. Park & Ride is only a sticking plaster, as although it can alleviate city-centre congestion, it still promotes car-dependency.
Surely it would be more sensible at a national level to get rid of all free commercial and workplace parking and attempt to equalize parking charges so that local businesses don't lose out. This is only fair because currently out-of-town businesses are subsidized by the fact that they benefit from the hugely expensive road network to a greater extent than local businesses. It is difficult enough to encourage a shift away from car-dependency when the car has key costs such as parking being externalized.