The retail industry has urged local councils not to kill trade by increasing parking charges in UK town centres.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), parking policy needs to be used as a method to draw consumers into towns and “keep the heart of communities beating”.
In a report, dubbed 21st Century High Streets: A new vision for our town centres, the BRC calls for parking and transport policy to help reduce town centre congestion without affecting footfall.
It also suggests that local authorities should offer incentives to use public transport, rather than inflicting penalty charges on motorists.
BRC Director of Business and Regulation Tom Ironside said: “Parking and transport policy should be aimed at providing a service to customers and retailers, not exploited as a local authority fund raiser.
“Jacking-up parking charges looks like an easy option for cash-strapped councils but they should not be ignoring the wider impact on their communities and economies of the damage higher charges causes to town centres.”
The Federation of Small Businesses has campaigned on similar issues in the past.
In a document supporting its recent Keep Trade Local drive, the group said: “Small market towns and their outlying rural communities are hit particularly hard by the imposition of parking charges.
“In these car dependent communities, free access to the town centre is essential not only for the purposes of shopping but also for social interaction.”