Monday, 29 October 2012

Wanted: People with tape measures and notebooks. Apply to Eric Pickles

It seems that Eric Pickles wants to recruit an army of snoopers armed with tape measures and notepads in his latest central initiative to make local government more open and accountable.

According to Conservative Home:

Councils will have to publish soon as it is produced the number of off-street parking places and the revenue raised from them; the number of on-street parking places and the revenue they raise; as well as the revenue from parking fines and the number of free parking spaces available in line with the Portas Review of the High Street recommendations.

The trouble is that in rural areas (and probably in urban too), there is no simple database of all parking spaces in or around our town centres. Most councils will have the data on the capacity of their car parks (but some are very informal and not marked), but what about on-street parking spaces?

In Cornwall, our streets aren't divided into bays - merely a hatched line to indicate the area that people may park. Does Mr Pickles want councils to recruit busybodies to go around measuring and counting the potential car parking spaces? I can certainly think of better ways to spend local taxpayers' money.

Mr Pickles is right in so far as councils should be open and transparent about the money they raise from parking. Here in Cornwall the council makes the second highest profit in the country outside London (and the seventh if you include the capital). The amount raised - more than £8m - would have been even more if it weren't for the multiple failures to hit their budget by the parking department (clue: don't treat car parks as a cash cow. Motorists can only afford so much).

But whilst openness and transparency is to be applauded, I'm not sure that yet another central diktat like this is going to make anyone much the wiser and it's going to be pretty burdensome to produce.

No comments: