Parking Places (Variation of Charges) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 3rd February 2017.

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Photo of David Tredinnick David Tredinnick Conservative, Bosworth 10:30 am, 3rd February 2017

I have a good recollection of those events, and the Bill is not about raising charges; it is about lowering charges and raising consultation levels. That is the soundbite; that is what the Bill is all about. That is why I ask my hon. Friend to withdraw his new clause.

My hon. Friend talks about private car park owners who wanted to ratchet up charges in Cornwall. My hon. Friend Mrs Murray, who is not here today, has had her own issues with car parking. My hon. Friend Stephen McPartland, who also is not here, has had such issues and held a successful debate on them in Westminster Hall the other day. There was so much in the newspapers and so much media hype about what would happen and the pandemonium that would be caused by the huge number of people who would go to Cornwall to watch the eclipse, which totally blocked out the light of the sun for about a minute, that nobody actually turned up. As my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay will recall, the numbers were way down and quite the reverse of what was expected happened. Councils might therefore make provision to reduce charges, but then suddenly realise that there is no need to do so at all, rather than waiting for 21 days and losing revenue. In that situation, the opposite applied.

I shall conclude my remarks fairly soon, but I want first to refer to what the Federation of Small Businesses told me yesterday. Apart from generously congratulating me on negotiating the narrows of the rivers to get to this point with a private Member’s Bill, it says that it is wholly supportive of the measures in the Bill, that it will be an additional tool for the Government to support local small businesses and ensure that they and their customers can park, and that is why it is very welcome. The FSB’s research shows that seven in 10 small firms think that parking is a priority for the future of independent shops. It says that independent retailers in town centres are the engines that help to make the UK’s local communities what they are. In its report, “Going the extra mile”, it found that small businesses are overwhelmingly reliant on roads, with nine in 10 firms—about 89%—placing a high value on the network. With so many small businesses relying on the road network, it argues for greater investment. Well, that is predictable. Its final point is that consultation with businesses is required before local authorities increase the cost of parking. That is exactly what clause 2 will provide.