Ministers end 'war on motorists' with slashing of parking charges

Parking fees are set to be slashed after the Government announced a series of pro-car measures including the removal of rules that forced councils to impose higher parking charges.

Other rules that were binned include those that required planning permission for charging points for electric vehicles and one that limited the number of parking spaces permitted at new-build homes.

"The government is calling off Whitehall's war on the motorist by scrapping the national policy restricting residential parking spaces and instructing councils to push up charges," said local government secretary Eric Pickles.

"Whitehall's addiction to micromanagement has created a parking nightmare with stressed-out drivers running a gauntlet of unfair fines, soaring charges and a total lack of residential parking," Mr Pickles continued.

"The result is our pavements and verges crammed with cars on curbs, endangering drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, increased public resentment of over- zealous parking wardens, and escalating charges and fines. We're getting out of the way and it's up to councils to set the right parking policy."

But critics have slammed the moves, with Labour saying they are merely a distraction from the predicted sharp rises in petrol prices that will come from the new 20 percent VAT rate and the 0.76p rise in fuel duty.

Opponents have also said that allowing councils the freedom to charge what they like means that some charges will actually go up, with Edmund King, the AA's President, saying: "Cash strapped councils may see drivers as a soft touch and look to increase parking charges. We would advise them not to do this as it could provoke a backlash."

Meanwhile, despite the removal of complications in installing electric charging points, green campaigners said that the announcement will be bad news for the environment, with Richard Dyer, a transport campaigner for Friends of the Earth saying: "Higher parking charges are what we need to encourage alternatives to car use, so it's a great shame they are being abolished."
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