A depressing decision by the Conservatives at the council meeting on Wednesday… in essence, they’ve voted through parking proposals which could have been designed to increase congestion, increase CO2 emissions and decrease air quality in the city centre. Their plans combine a big hike in parking charges at the Park & Ride – dramatically reducing the saving that this represents vs. town centre parking – with the reintroduction of ‘first half hour free’ for on street town centre parking. This has the effect of:
- Encouraging more people to drive to the centre – rather than using the Park & Ride
- Encouraging an increased number of short trips into the centre – rather than fewer longer trips
- Encouraging people to drive around looking for parking meters – rather than parking quickly
all of which will have a negative effect on congestion, emissions and air quality.
Their argument for this change is that it will help a subset of small businesses such as “locksmiths, dry cleaners and sandwich shops”. Quite aside from the complete lack of any thought about the impact of this change on the environment, it’s a pretty feeble argument economically too. Most businesses – whether small, medium or large – benefit from people spending longer in town and, if anything, the majority of Winchester’s businesses are likely to suffer as a result of these changes, rather than see any benefit.