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Town centre car parking charges continue to rise

A huge number of motorists are avoiding town centres because of excessive car parking charges, a survey has suggested.

69% of people said they avoided shopping in areas with high parking prices, while 65% said they would do more town centre shopping if car parking costs were more reasonable.

The total spent on parking across the country is around £8bn a year, with rises last year of 12.5%, according to the research and survey by car insurance website

Its spokesman Gareth Kloet said: “In today's difficult financial climate, people have had to find ways to save every penny possible. Over-priced parking charges are a problem that every motorist in the country has to deal with.”

But the LGA said the true picture was more complex. Its spokesman Ben Knowles said: “Many town and city centre car parks are operated by private companies or non-council organisations which set their own tariffs. No council puts up parking charges lightly and councils should rightly consult beforehand with residents and businesses which may be affected.

“Where councils are responsible for charges they strive to strike a balance between discouraging commuters from clogging spaces all day while not putting off residents from shopping locally. Introducing or increasing parking charges often boosts trade as it helps ensure a quicker turnover of shoppers. Councils also operate a range of parking incentives to encourage a vibrant high street such as free Sundays, cheaper evenings, free Christmas parking and community group discounts.

“There isn’t room in our increasingly busy town and city centres to keep creating more parking spaces. Councils have worked hard to improve public transport and cycling provision to make it easier for people to travel to their local high street without needing their car.

“Any revenue raised from council parking charges must be spent on transport services such as filling potholes, bus passes for the elderly, park and ride schemes, street lights, parking services and road improvement projects, things which will benefit all road users at some point. Many councils, particularly in rural areas, actually have to subsidise parking services as the cost is not covered by charges or fines.”

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