Parking prices up 12.5%


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The Independent Online

Britons are now spending nearly £8 billion a year to park their cars.

Parking prices rose 12.5% last year, with high charges deterring shoppers from visiting town centres, according to a survey by car insurance company

The most expensive parking is in Knightsbridge in central London, where motorists can be charged up to £36 for three hours.

The survey of 2,000 people found 69% intentionally avoided shopping areas with high parking prices.

As many as 65% said they would return to the high street if parking was more affordable, while 21% reckon current parking services do not offer enough space.

A total of 60% of motorists spend between six and 20 minutes every trip searching for a parking space, with 30% confessing to not feeling safe in car parks.

Nearly a quarter (24%) have been involved in a car park argument, with 11% of the altercations boiling over into physical violence. car insurance head 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."

A Local Government Association spokesman 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."

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "We are quite clear that councils shouldn't be using residents as cash cows in a bid to raise revenue. Instead, local authorities should be saving money through better procurement, cutting fraud, more joint working and using transparency to drive out waste.

"The Government wants to see councils adopt parking policies that benefit local people, motorists and shoppers alike. That's why we have ended the last government's requirements to limit spaces, push up soaring parking charges and encourage aggressive parking enforcement so it doesn't have an adverse impact on the high street."