Parking Places (Variation of Charges) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 3rd February 2017.

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Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill Conservative, Bury St Edmunds 12:32 pm, 3rd February 2017

It is my pleasure also to congratulate my hon. Friend David Tredinnick on bringing forward what is—unusually in this place—a simple Bill with a simple aim that affects a great number of people.

I welcome the fact that it is easier for local councils to sort out their car parking, but I want to speak a little bit about enabling them to have a sense of place. That is a really important factor, to which my hon. Friend Kevin Hollinrake alluded, as did my hon. Friend James Morris, who said that we should not be looking for a one-size-fits-all solution. A sense of place is about local authorities understanding their locality, including businesses, residents and the people who visit the town. Our towns are changing, which is why local authorities need flexibility.

In the town of Bury St Edmunds, residents live near businesses and tourist attractions, and a vast number of tourists visit. As I mentioned earlier, we have getting towards 2 million short-stay parking slots each year in a town of some 42,000. That shows the popularity of the town, but it also shows that we need to have local flexibility and accountability. A very different situation exists down the A14 in Stowmarket, which is also in my constituency. Stowmarket has a less vibrant town centre, so the local authority will need to apply different measures to accommodate its businesses and stimulate a vibrant economy that is right for the town. As my hon. Friend Helen Whately said, the provision is about building communities. It is about people having the time to go into town centres and actually enjoy where they live.