August 30 2013

The Federation of Small Businesses reports that the amount motorists pay to councils across England in parking charges and fines has increased by almost 10 per cent in the last five years. Data obtained by the FSB following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request shows most regions taking more money from motorists.

For the first time the FSB has asked all councils to detail their total income from parking, permit and penalty notice charges. In 2008 this was £810 million, increasing to £884 million in 2011 - a rise of almost 10 per cent. The FSB believes there is a clear connection with protecting local high streets and the impact that parking charges can have.

As Small Business Advice Week (2-8 September) is launched, the FSB releases its findings and calls on local authorities to work closely with the business community and residents to get a more effective parking policy in place. The FSB wants to see business groups and central and local government join forces to discuss creative solutions to the parking issues faced by regions, with heavy parking charges used only as a last resort.

Across the regions, East Yorkshire received the least in parking income from motorists, while unsurprisingly London and Thames Valley were the regions to take the most from motorists. However, the FSB believes that some councils could be using parking charges as a revenue raiser with several councils posting above inflation increases.

In addition, FSB research shows that businesses in urban and rural areas have different priorities when it comes to availability and cost of parking which must be addressed. For example, 59 per cent or urban retailers believe that reducing the cost of parking is a priority, compared to 45 per cent of rural retailers. Just over half (53%) of urban retailers believe that increasing the availability of parking should be a priority, compared to 31 per cent of rural retailers. This is backed up by the FOI request showing that the top five councils that take the most from motorists are in urban areas taking a staggering £480 million.

The FSB supported the Mary Portas Review, launched 2011. It gave 18 recommendations to the government, one of which suggested that "local areas should implement free controlled parking schemes that work for their town centres and should have a new parking league table".

Time for the FSB and councils to promote free parking for motorcycles?