The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged members of the House of Lords to pass a Bill which gives Government the power to force councils to consult before hiking parking charges, and make it easier for councils to drop charges for special events such as ‘Small Business Saturday’.
The Bill comes at a time when many small businesses, including independent town centre shops, are under threat from economic uncertainty and rising costs. FSB research has shown seven in ten small firms think parking is a priority for the future of independent shops.
High parking charges, over-aggressive enforcement and a lack of available spaces in many areas have discouraged shoppers from visiting traditional town centres and high streets.
The Bill – called the Parking Places (Variation of Charges) Bill - will give Ministers powers to make councils consult before raising parking costs.
At the same time, it will remove the automatic need for 21 days advance notice when councils reduce or suspend parking charges. The Private Member’s Bill has secured cross-party support, and so passed all its stages in the House of Commons.
FSB is asking all Peers to back the Bill, as a simple mechanism to improve parking arrangements for local business communities.
In the House of Commons, David Tredinnick, the MP responsible for introducing the Bill, said this is “about lowering charges and raising consultation levels”.
Labour MPs as well as Government backed the Bill, with Minister Marcus Jones saying: “The Government are committed to promoting town centres and high streets as thriving places at the heart of communities”.
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry, said: “The Lords should back this Bill. Parking remains a huge issue for local businesses, most of whom rely on the car for customers, staff and supplies to reach them.
“The high level of parking charges and fines raise billions for local councils, but put FSB members and independent retailers in town centres at a disadvantage. Customers who would otherwise choose to use independent shops are more likely to take their business elsewhere.
“This Bill will help allow independent small businesses to thrive. It makes it easier to lower or suspend charges for moments such as Small Business Saturday, while giving businesses a greater opportunity to have their say if hikes are proposed.”