Labour call for 30 minutes free parking in government consultation

In their submission to the government’s consultation on parking Barnet’s Labour Group have called for it to be made a requirement that local authorities provide a free parking period of at least 30 minutes free parking in high streets and town centres to support local businesses and help to promote thriving town centres where people want to live and shop.

Labour cite the Times Series petition calling for a 30 minutes free parking period which has 6,000 signatures, results from the Labour Group parking survey conducted in 2012 which showed that 95% of respondents were in favour of a 30 minutes free period and examples of other councils introducing 30 minutes free as evidence in their submission.

In their submission the Labour Group have also called for:

·         more to be done to stop unfair parking enforcement by requiring local authorities to sign up to a ‘fair enforcement’ charter, which would prevent tickets being issued, for example where signs and lines are unclear or where a disabled parking permit has been displayed upside down,

·         it to be made an obligation for local authorities to offer the ability to pay for parking by cash within a reasonable distance of where they have parking - for example via ticket machines,

·         for high parking charges at hospitals to be reviewed.

The Department of Communities and Local Government consultation on parking reform and tackling unfair practices closes on Tuesday 27 May.

Labour’s Parking and Environment Spokesperson, Cllr Alan Schneiderman said:
 
“Many local traders and businesses are quite clear that high parking charges and the switch to pay-by-phone have reduced local trade and affected their businesses.
 
“Since the government have asked what more can be done to help local town centres thrive we have made a submission calling for 30 minutes free – something the Federation of Small Businesses supports - and a fair enforcement charter to be introduced.
 
“We need to do everything we can to help our town centres and local businesses thrive.”
 
Ends.
Notes:
 
1.       A copy of the Labour Group submission can be found below:
 
Response from Barnet Labour Group to the Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on - Parking reform: tackling unfair practices
 
1.    Do you think there are problems with how parking on private or public land is regulated, or the behaviour of private parking companies?
 
·         Yes.
 
2.    If you answered Yes to Question 1, what problems do you think there are with parking on private land, or the practices of parking control companies managing parking on private or public land?
 
·         The cost of parking in hospitals and strict enforcement is causing distress and financial burden to patients and their visitors.  Parking in hospital car parks should be free.
 
3.    If you answered Yes to Question 1, what steps do you think the Government should take to rectify these problems?
 
·         We believe that there should be a requirement for local authorities to provide a free parking period of at least 30 minutes in all high streets and town centres.  This will support local businesses and help to promote thriving town centres where people want to live and shop.
 
4.    Are you able to offer any evidence to support a case for change, or examples of best practice?
 
·         There is clear demand for a free parking period in the London Borough of Barnet. 
 
·         A petition initiated by the Times Series - a local newspaper calling for a free 30 minute parking period has over 6,000 signatures (half of which are online: http://petitions.barnet.gov.uk/30MinutesFree/  and half have been collected in hard copies from local shops and cafes).
 
·         This petition, along with another one from The Barnet Society calling for a free parking period (containing 2,104 signatures) was presented to Barnet Council’s environment committee on 10 March 2015:http://petitions.barnet.gov.uk/30MinutesFree/.  The committee was addressed by local business owners and residents who supported the petitions.
 
·         To help inform its draft parking policy, Barnet Council commissioned an independent research company to conduct focus groups in 2013 and early 2014 with local residents and businesses.  The key finding in the section on setting parking prices in town centres says: “There is an appetite for free short term parking amongst residents”.  See Agenda Item 8: Parking Policy: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=695&MId=7880&Ver=4
 
·         Barnet Labour Group conducted its own survey in 2012, which showed that 95% of respondents supported a 30 minute free parking period.
 
·         A number of local authorities have introduced a free parking period. One example of best practice is LB Redbridge:https://www2.redbridge.gov.uk/cms/news_and_events/latest_news/2014/september/30_minutes_free_parking.aspx  
 
5.    Do you think there are other steps the Government could take to ensure that parking supports local shops and high streets?
 
·         Overly rigorous parking enforcement is not only unfair but discourages people from using their local shops.  Local authorities should be  required to sign up to a ‘fair enforcement’ charter, which would prevent tickets being issued, for example where signs and lines are unclear or where a disabled parking permit has been displayed upside down.
 
6.    If you answered Yes to Q5, what steps do you think the Government should take to help support local shops and high streets, for example by encouraging the provision of free and competitively priced parking spaces?
 
·         Yes.  As set out above in answer to question 5.
 
7.    Should there be an obligation for local authorities to offer the ability to pay for parking by cash within a reasonable distance of where they have parking (for example via ticket machines or via local shops)?
 
·         Yes.  Cash parking meters (both on-street and in Council car parks) were removed in the London Borough of Barnet in August 2011. They were replaced with a ‘pay by phone’ parking system and the ability to pay in a limited number of shops.  Subsequently parking vouchers were introduced and a limited number of parking meters accepting credit and debit cards only. 
 
·         Since cash parking meters were removed, local businesses have noticed a significant drop in trade as people chose to go elsewhere to shop, where they can pay by cash or park free of charge.  This is particularly the case for lower value and shorter visits, including stopping for a quick coffee, sandwich, dropping off dry cleaning or buying a pint of milk.  Many people prefer to use cash to pay small sums of money and others do not feel safe using a mobile phone or credit card in the street.  There are also drivers who do not own a mobile phone. 
 
·         This is reflected in submissions to a Barnet Council ‘Task and Finish’ group report on cash parking meters, published in April 2014. See Agenda Item 5: Parking Policy (Cash meters):http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=120&MId=7519&Ver=4
 
8.    Do you have any examples demonstrating best practice approaches in the UK or abroad?
 
·         The best practice approach that many councils adopt is to offer a choice of payment methods, one of which is the ability to pay by cash at parking meters. 
 
·         The ability to pay by cash at a limited number of shops in Barnet has not proved to be a popular way of paying.  This is primarily due to the time taken to locate a shop and than having to queue up to pay, particularly when you may only have wanted to make a quick purchase in the first place.
 
9.    Do you have any best practice suggestions for councils to follow?
·         As covered above.
 

To contact Cllr Schneiderman: cllr.a.schneiderman@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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