Parking Places (Variation of Charges) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:48 am on 3rd February 2017.

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Photo of James Morris James Morris Conservative, Halesowen and Rowley Regis 11:48 am, 3rd February 2017

As I said earlier, the Halesowen chamber of trade has done a huge amount of work to increase footfall in the town, and it should be at the front and centre of consultation on the proposed parking charges regime. As my hon. Friend says, those voices in our constituencies need to be heard.

The Bill will not necessarily prohibit any increase in charges. Occasionally it may be necessary to increase them if overhead costs are rising as well, especially in car parks that require access to machines and staff. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that the impacts on towns are fully considered, not to prevent increases.

On-street parking is often subject to the same level of increases as off-street, although the costs of providing parking spaces are nowhere near the same. As other Members have pointed out, that can make local residents feel that they are a cash cow enabling local authorities to plug a financial hole. A balance needs to be struck. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation, but the Bill will make it quicker and easier for local authorities to do the right thing. It will also give local authorities the flexibility to incentivise the use of car parks which are currently underused. Spaces that they are paying to maintain are sitting idle, which does not benefit either local authorities or shopping centres. Empty car parks can become a magnet for antisocial behaviour and crime. It is important for local authorities to be able to respond to declining numbers quickly, and in the best interests of the local area.