Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Lib Dems we know and love

From The Daily Mail:

Cars should be banished from town centres, a Liberal Democrat minister has claimed.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said drivers should be hit with big increases in parking charges so they are ‘disincentivised’ from parking near high street shops. He renewed the Lib Dems’ war on motorists at a fringe meeting at his party’s conference in Glasgow.

Mr Baker admitted that higher parking charges could ‘damage town centres’ but he then claimed that pushing people onto public transport and bicycles would help revive the high street.

That doesn't really merit a response, does it?


Lola said...


Bayard said...

It all depends on what you mean by "town centres" and I wouldn't trust the DM to report anything accurately, especially if they can spin a horror story ("war on motorists") out of it. It is a proven fact that bypassing and pedestrianisation of the centres of towns improves the trade to the town centre shops. It is also a fact that these changes are usually resisted tooth and nail by the very same traders. Of course, any such pedestrianisation has to be accompanied by ample and convenient parking, but a move to provide more of this doesn't fit the DM's spin, does it?

Dinero said...

It seems to be based on assuming the point of a town centre is retail. Actually the purpose and character of most high streets is that they are road from one place to another place. Most pedestranisation schemes work out horribly, leaving the town an odd nondescript place iscolated inside a ring road.

The London congestion charge was claimed to be a success but actually the move to public transport never happened. The total journeys just decreased, which was not predicted by the original proposal.

JimS said...

Clegg thought that the 60+ bus pass should be taken away, now they want to give it to 16-year olds.

Couldn't we bring in a 'Clegg-tax', everytime that idiot opens his mouth he has to pay us each 5p?

proglodyte said...

One reason why people use cars to go shopping is that they can safely store bought goods without having to lug loads of bags around town, on buses or trying to carry them on a bike. Only a fool would leave unattended valuable with a bike and the police wouldn't be too happy for - theft, bombs and road safety.

The Stigler said...

The last Labour council in Swindon tried this. Raise charges, add bus lanes, people will get on buses, right?

Wrong. What people did is to drive to out-of-town shopping locations instead, and the town centre ended up being full of the poorest shoppers (the people who have to take the bus).

And using Cambridge as evidence is silly. Cambridge is full of students and tourists.

Bayard - not sure I entirely agree. I think it depends on the profile of the shops and how far you go with it. One of the streets in Swindon near the centre used to be open, and it had a key cutter/heel bar. I could turn up at 5pm, park outside, run in with a key and be out again 15 minutes later. This got pedestrianised which turned that from a 15 minute trip into a 30-40 minute trip, which meant that nipping to the Timpson at Sainsbury's is quicker and cheaper. And it was never a busy street for pedestrians anyway.

Bayard said...

"Most pedestranisation schemes work out horribly, leaving the town an odd nondescript place iscolated inside a ring road."

If you enjoy having to fight your way through a town centre when you simply want to get from one place to another and the town is en route, then you are in a tiny minority, I suspect. If the town is so nondescript so as not to have anything in it that would make it worthwhile for anyone to go into in the first place, then forcing lots of motorists who don't want to be there to drive through it is hardly going to improve matters.

TS, yes, pedestrianisation is not a panacea. In my local large town the main shopping street was pedestrianised and this was such a success that a mall was built parallel to it in the guise of another pedestrianised street. However, the bottom, grotty end of the street was left for years before pedestrianisation and when this happened, its fortunes did not improve. Perhaps because it was that much further away from the nearest car parks.

DBC Reed said...

@ Stigler
Having once lived in Swindon, I can recall all the cars being funnelled into the town centre supermarkets and the surrounding streets ,lined with shops, being double yellow lined to get the car- borne supermarket shoppers in.

Mark Wadsworth said...

1. Thanks for all the comments, for some reason people have very strong views on this, it all gets quite emotive, but the fact is, a decent retail area is 50% car parking and 50% shops.

If it is a little parade in the village with post office, off licence, hair dressers, estate agent and funeral parlour, then you need maybe a dozen parking spaces.

If it's an out of town supermarket, the shop/warehouse is an acre and the car park is an acre.

If it's a shopping mall, there will be three storeys of shops and a three-storey car park of similar size.

That;s just the way things are.

2. Public transport is a bonus, but it always is.

3. Whether a pedestrian precinct is appropriate all depends on whether there are other sensible routes through town and parking nearby.