Parking Places (Variation of Charges) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:01 am on 3rd February 2017.

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Photo of Craig Whittaker Craig Whittaker Conservative, Calder Valley 11:01 am, 3rd February 2017

My hon. Friend makes a valid point. For a retailer, it is vital that a local resident can pop down to the town centre to get a pint of milk or a loaf of bread—the essentials that we need for daily living—with absolute ease. An excellent car parking strategy would allow them do that as easily and quickly as possible.

High streets and town centres continue to play a fundamental role in the lives of our communities, and parking is one of the factors most able to shape their success. If local authorities can strike the correct balance, a successful parking strategy can bring in visitors. I mentioned the Brighouse Business Initiative, which runs farmers markets in our area. Every year, it runs a massive 1940s weekend, which brings in about 200,000 additional people. Such initiatives in town centres can bring in the footfall, and car parking plays a vital role in that. It can help to reinvigorate a town centre.

Sadly, if the local council gets it wrong, a town centre can experience an all too different result. When local authorities seek to support the high street by reducing charges, the Bill will facilitate that and give them the flexibility to do so. If they adopt a different approach and seek to raise charges, it will ensure that local people and businesses are properly consulted and that the impact on the town is fully considered before any changes are made. The Bill has the potential to have a lasting and positive impact on our town centres, and I wholeheartedly support the intention behind it. I welcome the fact that both the Government and the Opposition have suggested that they will support it, and I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth for bringing it before the House.

My final point is a message to the Minister. He might have a great knack of emptying the Public Gallery, but if he looks up he will see that it is now almost full.