Motorists facing rising parking charges and fewer spaces – poll

MOTORISTS are enduring rising parking charges as the number of spaces to leave their vehicles is falling, the RAC has warned.

As many as four in five drivers have reported increasing parking charges in towns and cities, in a survey published today.

The new figures show 67 per cent of those drivers believed there was now less parking close to their town or city centre and parking restrictions had become more stringent where they live.

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Almost a quarter of the 1,526 motorists surveyed said traffic wardens were now more active in their area and 22 per cent said they had seen parking spaces that used to be free become charged for in the last 12 months.

The poll also found that 65 per cent of motorists reported that even when they finally find a space to park, it was too small for today’s breed of cars, many of which are wider than previous generations of vehicle because of the addition of side-impact protection features.

The RAC said that 67 per cent of drivers who agreed that parking had become more expensive in the town centre had cut the amount of driving.

It added that London motorists, in particular, had “felt the pain” of increased parking costs, with 59 per cent finding high street parking was hitting their pocket more. In addition, 41 per cent of motorists believed that the local authority used the revenue from parking charges to subsidise other areas of non-motoring expenditure.

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RAC technical director David Bizley said: “We have to find a happy medium between the desire of motorists to get to where they want to go, which our research shows is driven in part by inadequate public transport in many parts,y, and the need to keep towns and cities moving.

Parking has always been an emotive issue for the nation’s drivers – whether that’s caused by driving around city centres endlessly to find an elusive space, or a neighbour mindlessly blocking your driveway.”

He added: “So what is the solution? Britain’s local authorities have undoubtedly got a tough job to keep a growing driving population happy while allowing our high streets to thrive and keep traffic moving, but they need to think and act boldly.

“We need transparency. Councils should be compelled to report where the money raised from parking goes – giving drivers assurance that it is being ploughed back into road and transport improvements, rather than plugging budget holes elsewhere.”

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York Council’s leader James Alexander stressed any money raised by local authorities through parking charges had to be spent on parking.

He said the authority was looking to trial “pay as you leave” parking in the city centre to ensure shoppers and visitors have a better experience, and added: “We do not want people rushing back to their cars when they could remain in the centre for longer.”

Coun Alexander also said York Council was looking at introducing free parking for residents during less busy times to bring more people into the city.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Councils remain on the side of hard-pressed motorists by keeping a lid on parking charges which are only set to rise with inflation this year. Councils have to try to strike a balance when setting parking charges to ensure there are spaces available for everyone at all times of the day.

“Parking charges and fines are essential to help councils keep traffic flowing and pedestrians and motorists safe.”

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