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05 June 2017

Monday Musing: Election comment – Conservative’s Parking Policy

We are only days away from the general election and the race is on.

Last week we saw a catty debate on BBC 1 with a missing Theresa May, and Tory candidate, Craig Mackinlay, charged over 2015 election expenses. The Conservatives are perhaps feeling the pressure a bit so let’s take the time to review the commitments they have made regarding parking in their manifesto.

Their first point is “We will review disabled people’s access and amend regulations if necessary to improve disabled access to licensed premises, parking and housing.”

We are very pleased to see this and think it is paramount that parking for disabled people is improved and the abuse of disabled spaces is reduced. In 2016 we took on the management of the Disabled Parking Accreditation, working alongside Disabled Motoring UK, to do just that. Since April 2016 we have improved access in over 400 car parks!

In our Manifesto for Parking we continue this commitment: We want to see parking providers improve access to parking facilities for all. We want to ensure persistent evaders and those that continue to misuse the Blue Badge cannot avoid enforcement, they should acknowledge and learn from their actions.

Their second proposal is “We will take steps to tackle rogue private parking operators.” Perhaps unsurprising for some, to us it is a commitment to working with us further.

We do not like the term ‘rogue’ as it unfairly tars everyone with the same brush but since 2014 we have been working with the Department for Communities and Local Government on our proposal to raise the standards in private parking. Although it all sounds good they have been reticent to take any action. We are still waiting for them to respond to a consultation they published in Spring 2015! Again at our Parking Summit in May 2016 they promised to have a response to us by the end of the year but we are still waiting!

In our manifesto we continue the commitment to work on this subject: There remain opportunities to improve the understanding, consistency and standards in the management of parking on private land. We will continue to work with business associations to show how well managed parking can assist local businesses. We want Government to put in place a consistent set of standards with a single code of practice and single appeals service.

Interestingly the pledge by the Conservatives on private parking has been decoupled from town centre objectives that appeared in their 2015 manifesto: “We will support Business Improvement Districts and other forms of business-led collaboration on high streets – giving more say to local traders on issues such as minor planning applications, cleaning and parking. We will continue to support local shops and residents in tackling aggressive parking enforcement and excessive parking charges, and take steps to tackle rogue and unfair practices by private parking operators.”

So what could this mean? It is important to recognise parking as part of the bigger traffic management picture. As we say in our manifesto: Parking is managed in town centres on housing estates, business parks, shopping centres and leisure centres that would become congested and inaccessible if parking wasn't managed. Good regulations and sensible management can help revitalise the high street and support local residents, motorists, and businesses more widely.

UKIP have retained the relationship in their manifesto: “Encourage local trade by pushing every local authority in the country to offer at least 30 minutes’ free parking in town centres and shopping parades.”

Their Manifesto appeared after Labour’s and to some it appeared that they were just jumping on the bandwagon of the much publicised labour free call. However unlike Labour they have not set out how they will pay for free parking – it’s not free after all!

So who will win the election? YouGov published a new poll on 31 May which has the narrowest gap between the main two parties so far during the campaign. It has the Conservatives on 42% and Labour on 39% - their highest rating in any poll since 2014.

However Kantar Public also published a poll last Wednesday with a slightly increased Conservative lead, they now have the Conservatives on 43% and Labour on 33%.

We may see a government of many colours…

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