The Tories yesterday announced a number of new 'pro-car' measures. No doubt timed to coincide with the twin increases in VAT and fuel duty that will further increase the cost of a litre of petrol or diesel, these measures will remove restrictions limiting car parking spaces for new housing developments and allow councils to lower parking charges.
Eric Pickles commented:
"The result is our pavements and verges crammed with cars on curbs [sic], endangering drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, increased public resentment of over- zealous parking wardens, and escalating charges and fines. We're getting out of the way and it's up to councils to set the right parking policy."
Cyclists? At least he knows we exist. Unfortunately, he and Transport Secretary Hammond are not stopping cars parking on kerbs or verges. They don't seem to understand that the public have a pretty-much insatiable appetite for car parking. Allowing new housing developments to have more car parking will just mean existing houses without off-street parking will be able to park second and third cars on the street. The Tories don't seem to realize that more cars means more car journeys, and at the end of each journey the car will be parked somewhere - guess where - on a verge or on the kerb. What Pickles and Hammond are seemingly missing is that the problem, in urban areas at least, isn't 'not enough parking', it is 'too many cars'. Increasing car dependency, which they seem determined to do, won't solve either problem.
As for allowing councils to charge less for parking, this will have a couple of undesirable effects. First, it will reduce the council's revenues. As I noted in a previous post, councils are keen to increase charges, not reduce them, for precisely this reason. Second, if you make the car journey cheaper by reducing the cost of parking, this will increase traffic levels, which will increase congestion unless you build new roads, which you'll notice the Tories are not proposing to do...