Is the government using parking charges to swell council coffers?

Is this goverment using parking charges as a mechanism to raise revenues? Let’s look at what is going on in other towns/cities/counties in the United Kingdom. Here are a few stories that are being covered in national and local media.

Councils have been accused of using churchgoers and shoppers as ‘cash cows’ after scrapping free evening and Sunday parking. Traders say the move is killing business and they are being forced to make redundancies. Daily Mail, 22nd January 2012

In Norfolk plans to hike parking fees are branded a stealth tax. Eastern Daily Press, 20 February 2012

Parking fees in Blackpool need to be reduced – or scrapped altogether – to help attract more visitors to the resort. Blackpool Gazette, 22nd November 2011

Decision to scrap car parking fees hailed. Retailers across Northern Ireland have praised the new Regional Development Minister’s decision to scrap controversial plans to introduce car parking charges. Danny Kennedy promised that one of his main priorities when he assumed office would be to ditch the proposals earmarked for 30 towns and cities in total. Belfast Telegraph, 17th May 2011

Increases in parking charges in Selby should be put on hold to encourage more visitors to the town, a leading business figure has claimed. The York Press, 13th September 2011

Westminster Council has announced it will scrap a plan to charge for evenings and Sunday parking in the West End. The new levy of up to £4.40 per hour was to run until midnight, Monday-to-Saturday and on Sunday afternoons. The move had provoked widespread opposition with protest groups claiming it was aimed at raising revenue and not cutting congestion. BBC News, 18th January 2012

A shopkeeper today called on council chiefs to scrap parking charges in a Shropshire town after new Government plans were unveiled to help struggling high streets. Councillor John Murray, who owns two shops in Wem, said he feared car parking charges had led to people staying away from the town. Shropshire Star, 5th August 2011

With the recently published Mary Portas report advocating affordable town centre parking, town centre manager Steve Townsend believes North Somerset Council should scrap the changes in order to attract people to shop in the resort’s town centre shops. The Western Mercury, 10th January 2012

Plans for parking charges to be introduced in North Lanarkshire’s town centres were thrown out by a committee this week. North Lanarkshire Council had proposed to bring in parking charges in town centres throughout the region as part of its parking management policy. The charges would have seen drivers pay 20p per hour for up to three hours parking in town centres, with the maximum daily charge being £13 for those parking for up to ten hours. However, after much outcry against the plans, the idea was rejected by the environmental services committee on January 24. The decision has also seen a significant u-turn by council leader Jim McCabe who, in February 2011, defended the proposal, saying the introduction of parking charges would deter people from staying longer than intended in short-stay parking spaces. STV Local, 26th January 2012

In Staffordshre opposition councillors are urging a local authority to adopt retail guru Mary Portas’s advice and introduce free parking schemes to help attract shoppers to town centres. They believe reducing parking charges, or scrapping them altogether, could play a vital role in helping traders pull in the punters during tough economic times. this is Staffordshire, 20th December 2011

Call to scrap Torquay’s ‘fiasco’ parking meters amid confusion over charges. Torbay’s new parking meters have been branded a ‘fiasco’ and one community leader says they should be scrapped completely. This Is Devon, 12th January 2012

Following the County Councils decision to finally drop their plans to charge residents for parking permits in disc parking zones, Cumbria MP Tim Farron has greeted this as a success for residents across the County. He  has previously criticised the Council’s plans which were to bring in a £25 annual charge for residents’ parking permits, which had previously been free as an unnecessary and unfair additional tax on residents. Cumbria 24, 2nd October 2011

Sheffield City Council admits parking permits are being doubled as part of revenue strategy. Sheffield City Council has found a new way of raising revenue, and as usual it is hard pressed council taxpayers who will have to dig deeper into their pockets. Although the council is planning to accept the government’s offer of a grant and intends to freeze council tax for the forthcoming financial year, many residents and businesses are about to be hit in the pocket by rises in parking permits. I’m not talking about 5% or even 10%. If you have one car, the cost of a permit will double from £10 to £20. If you have a second car, the cost will increase from £30 to £60. Businesses are also being hit with the cost of a permit rising for a first vehicle from £20 to £40, and charges for a second business vehicle will increase from £60 to £90.  A visitor permit, currently costing £2.50 will rise four-fold to £10. Even charges for carers will double. It is estimated these rises will swell the council’s coffers by £352K. Tax Payers Alliance, 21st February 2011

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