Well I had some sympathy with the District Council's proposals to try and bring parking charges across the District into line. Parking charges are not fair at the moment - Stroud and others pay, Nailsworth and others don't. However the proposals put forward are not the right way to address the problem and also don't consider all the options.
A good case was made by Nailsworth to relook at the issue and Green councillor Simon Pickerings' recommendation that an Impact Assessment of any changes should be made, was accepted by the Cabinet member responsible for the proposed changes. There are indeed many issues like the pressures on the Morrison car park which would presumably remain free. As traders have noted coming at this time the charges could be very damaging to the local economy. See the Nailsworth residents campaign website here: www.nprag.org.uk/
For me the real unfairness lies in the free parking offered by out-of-town centres and supermarkets. I know of several people who have said they prefer Cribbs for shopping as the parking is free - forgetting that the extra petrol they use to get there wipes out any saving and more. We should also not forget a significant number of people don't have access to a car.
It has been suggested that the Sustainable Communities Act may allow us to levy non domestic rates on all car parking spaces - with a power for the council to allow discounts if the supermarket or other store, sources a stated percentage of goods for sale locally. In addition to boosting the local economy, this proposal would also enable districts who provide town centre public car parks to subsidise them from business rates collected from the supermarkets. However when I looked into this it would appear that the government's response to Exeter City Council's proposal for this was dismissive last year - although there maybe room for discretionary business rate discounts and small business rate relief.
Another aspect raised by Greens was the possibility of Town Council's like Nailsworth running those car parks themselves. This fits with moves towards localism. I am delighted that the Council is going to relook at this issue and hope they will consider different options more thoroughly.