Cllr John Pennington is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Bradford Council
My Labour-led local authority has announced that it is to use the services of a telephone parking payment provider called RingGo whilst drumming up even more ways to persecute the motorist.
In what is becoming tradition, new schemes are too often ill-conceived and certainly never fully thought through. I will address parking charges and their effect upon decimated town centres later. In the meantime, residents will need a permit to park outside their homes – but so too, visitors who must be pre-booked for a specific date and time along with vehicle registration number and owner’s name. The last two categories can be chosen from an already requested and submitted list ‘allowing’ residents to select one from up to a maximum of 10 visitor names. There is even a suggestion that a tradesperson’s permit will be introduced costing £15 per day; sounds like some very expensive home improvements to me.
Residents are informed all this will be very simple to follow and can be done paperless on line via a computer or smartphone. For those without, it is suggested they visit their local library (if still there and open). There is little thought given to the more elderly who may live alone and not be IT savvy.
Of more concern is the elephant in the room, the Labour dictatorship intend to use an outsource partner called “Imperial” who specialise in civil enforcement solutions. Other providers are available, one widely used being Permit-Smarti. Requesting people to supply personally identifiable information and register movements of visitors is one thing but to then pass it on to a third party surely contravenes the Human Rights Act and the more recently introduced GDPR which has been the cause of some many problems to businesses.
Thank you if you have stayed so long, I now turn to how we can help our Town Centres.
Councils are now experiencing what businesses have for far too long – a shortage of customers, reality has finally hit. My Council compounded by coronavirus will lose up to £1 million in parking fees and charges, the estimated income across the country in fees alone would have been £885 million before the exodus hit. Councils now have to make business decisions, foreign though it may be to them. Do they reapply, even increase, parking charges to protect their own car cash cow income but by doing so risk hurting, or worse, still lose businesses that bring in rates, jobs, and prosperity? No more heads in the sand policies.
Many councils seem hellbent on exterminating the motorist through increased charges and extending hours in to the evenings and Sundays and the removal of 30 minute free periods. Whilst I salute the request to go green and we rightly look at ways to promote cycling and walking we must also ensure adequate space for motor vehicles. Huge sums are being spent on cycle lanes and extended pavements which are empty. Social distancing measures which could be in place for a long period have significantly reduced public transport capacity. Centres hollowed out even further by businesses now looking to reduce office space after successfully moving to home working will mean even more empty property. Ground floor offices and shop units should become garages with residential above.
Bold leadership is needed if politicians are to get the respect of the electorate; they are there to do what is right. 64 per cent of shopping trips are done by car according to a National Travel Survey; one of the reasons out of town shopping centres have free parking. My Conservative Group proposal is to remove parking charges both on and off street, but limited to two hours. We would also remove the costly supervision overhead by introducing a London style vehicle tow-away where anyone who overstays or parks without thought for other road users will have to reclaim their vehicle from a distant compound, pay a hefty fee (£250), and produce valid driver and vehicle documents.