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Market Towns

BBC NEWS | UK | 'Modern trends' put towns at risk

More than 1,000 market towns throughout Britain face an uncertain future due to a shift in modern lifestyles, new research claims.
It found more people were prepared to use out-of-town shops or the internet, leaving local traders out of pocket.

Well it has been going on for a long time - so what do the local council do to encourage people to use the town centre? let us take Devizes as an example which has a large central marketplace were free parking for shopping always has been the norm. So to "make it better for people to use" Kennet council reduces the number of free spaces, suggesting people are happy to walk half a mile down a narrow sloping street to an other car park. And they want to introduce parking charges, not to manage the parking problem or provide revenue to go towards the upkeep of the car park. No "consultants" have shown the way for the Council to make up the "revenue shortfall" is to issue more penalty tickets. Yes penalty tickets, they are introducing a bye-law purely so they can raise money by fining people who break it. And they wonder why people don't go there..

Below is the local rag's story - as they lose it from the web after a week.

A DEVIZES councillor is appealing to colleagues on Kennet District Council to resist pressure to introduce "decriminalised" parking in the district.


Jeff Ody, the member for Devizes South, says that parking attendants will be under pressure to maximise the revenue from fines to cover the enormous cost of introducing the scheme.


Decriminalised parking means that offenders will not be pursued through the magistrates' courts as part of the criminal justice system, but fines will be enforced through the county courts as civil debt. Local councils will hold onto the fines imposed, rather than central government.


But the cost of bringing in the new system would put a financial strain on Kennet District Council. Government grants would be available for some of the 269,000 start up costs but not for the estimated 210,000 running costs in future years.


A report to the county council by consultants RTA Associates, seen by Kennet councillors in May, showed a healthy surplus to Kennet every year, but only if there were 9,830 penalty charge tickets issued. Currently Kennet issues about 4,000 a year.


Coun Ody said: "One of the greatest assets of our towns is the relaxed, friendly and non-confrontational relationship between motorists and parking wardens.


"If we move to decriminalised parking, a high-pressure regime of impersonal penalty enforcement will be introduced, for revenue and commercial reasons, which will destroy the amiable mood which we now enjoy in our streets."


A spokesman said that Wiltshire County Council is hoping to apply for decriminalising parking by the end of the year and to have a scheme in place by 2006. But the county would only proceed if the district councils agreed.

Comments

The nearest small town near me, Dulverton in Somerset, did the same thing a couple of years ago. The town council had a licence to operate a charging car park which IIRC cost 15000 per annum. As they only charge in the summer the revenue from the carpark, looking at the maximum amount possible is less than the licence fee.

So what do they do? They employ, at extra cost, someone to act as a parking warden for the sole reason to find as many vehicles to charge as possible.

They have also introduced double yellow line all over the place and change the on street parking layout. This has led to a large drop in the available parking places and also an increase in the speed of traffic through Dulverton. It has of course also had the side effect of dropping visits from tourists (very important for the local economy).

Of course they complain about the side effects but do nothing to change the courses of the problems.

I know Devizes well, and have been lucky to always park for free.

However, I think the attitude of towns to charge people for parking, even at times when there are no shortages is short-sighted.

Where I live, there used to be plenty of free parking, but traffic calming on one road, the reduction of parking because of residents parking has meant that much of this has gone. People aren't willing to spend 50p for parking to buy a newspaper and a loaf of bread. So, they drive to Tesco and stop off to buy a few quid of groceries where they can park for free.

The result? A lot of the small shops have suffered because no-one uses them.

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