The East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) has announced free parking on weekends for three months, starting in November this year through to the end of January 2012. Although planning ahead for the festive period is not a bad thing - and no-one is going to complain at free parking - what the council has failed to do is address the problem of high car parking charges throughout the county.
I will take the town of Beverley as an example. Beverley is a small market town. Traders have long complained that high parking charges are turning customers away. It is cheaper to park in the city of Hull than it is to park in Beverley, but all the council has done in the past couple of years is kick the problem into the long grass. It did have a car parking review panel, which went to the expense of sending a roadshow around the county, getting residents to fill-in questionnaires on their thoughts about charges. It made its recommendations this time last year. Its decision was to postpone its decision until this year. It did have some unpopular proposals, such as charging in car parks that are currently free, and now the council has decided to postpone a decision on that for at least another year.
The leader of the council, Stephen Parnaby, had this to say:
"I do recognise that many people in the East Riding have no alternative but to use a car to visit our market towns for shopping and services.
"Fuel costs are escalating alarmingly and public transport is not always an option,"
My message to Mr Parnaby is simple: If you recognise fuel costs are rising at an alarming rate, why don't you do something about the fact car parking charges in the East Riding are too high? Why do you keep postponing decisions? Why don't you give everyone something to cheer about by reducing the cost of parking in all car parks throughout the county?
If he does that, I will congratulate him. If he wants to boost trade and the number of visitors to the East Riding, this is an ideal way to start.