Eric Pickles really is in the wrong job. Or, more correctly, in, the wrong Government department.
With all of the ministers in the Department for Transport seemingly under orders to talk about nothing other than HS2 at the moment, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has seized the moment to speak up for the British motorist.
“New planning guidance to be published this week will push for more town centre parking spaces and tackle the blight of… aggressive ‘anti-car’ traffic calming measures like road humps,” a new press release from the DCLG says. “The new practice guidance, covering design, town centres and travel plans, will state that councils should understand the important role appropriate parking facilities can play in rejuvenating shops, high streets and town centres. It also sets out how town hall planning rules should not be used to tax drivers or justify development of crude traffic calming measures, such as poorly-sited bollards and road humps.
“Today’s announcement is also part of a wider government initiative to support parking and local shoppers,” the DCLG adds. “Ministers will be making more announcements on parking in due course.”
Mr Pickles said “Draconian town hall parking policies and street clutter can make driving into town centres unnecessarily stressful and actually create more congestion because of lack of places to park. Anti-car measures are driving motorists into the arms of internet retailers and out of town superstores.”
The DCLG’s press release about its new planning guidance has already drawn an angry response from the Local Government Association. “Councils work hard to try and boost trade and keep High Streets vibrant through parking incentives such as free short-stay, cheaper evenings and free Sundays,” an LGA spokesman said.
The Department for Communities and Local Government guidance itself will be published shortly.