The right steps in Gwynedd

As reported by the BBC, Gwynedd Council in North Wales is freezing parking charges until a review takes place in February 2013. A report to councillors had this to say:

"The review should consider the impact of parking fees on the local economy and the viability of town centres given the possible impact this could have on businesses and residents. This element of the review should include a survey of shopping habits, a survey of businesses' opinion and give consideration to town centre regeneration schemes."

The portfolio holder for the environment, Cllr Gareth Roberts, also said, "At a time when retail shops in town centres are struggling to survive, we must address car parking issues to address the volatile economic climate."

We agree, and if Cllr Roberts and Gwynedd Council can see it, why can't others? It should be staring them in the face. Too many councils treat motorists as cash cows, assuming that visitors and shoppers will not change their habits and go elsewhere. This has proved a false assumption.

In recent weeks we have highlighted how high parking charges in Salisbury and North Northumberland have had a detrimental impact on businesses. Leeds City Council is proposing to increase charges in some of its car parks by 10%, and Manchester City Council by a whopping 20%. Manchester is already the most expensive place to park outside London.

So a big thumbs-up to Gwynedd who have put the needs of local businesses first. Our hope is other councils around the country will follow Gwynedd's lead, and not try and make a fast buck out of the people they are supposed to be serving.

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