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1:09pm Friday 4th May 2012 in Letters
Sir, – I refer to Hilary Heward’s letter (D&S April 27) regarding parking in Darlington. She makes a perfectly valid point about car parking charges driving customers from our towns. Hambleton Council take note.
It all boils down to European, national and local governments ripping off the motorist. Motorists are regarded as mobile cash machines by many organisations who sting us for fuel tax, road tax, speed camera fines, bridge and tunnel tolls, parking charges in towns, hospitals (which are owned by the public), airports and tourist spots as well as the notorious wheel clampers.
The Government extracts £48bn per year from the motorist of which only £16bn is spent on roads. The remaining £32bn disappears into a black hole and is wasted by government. By anyone’s imagination that is theft. It is only a matter of time before the charges for using the car parks in Bedale and Northallerton will be extended to their high streets in the form of parking meters. The parking charges at Northallerton rail station have increased by about 30 per cent in the last two years when inflation was less than five per cent.
Instead of persecuting the motorist, councils should be encouraging them to visit our local towns to spend money with local businesses. Take Northallerton high street and consider how many shops have closed in recent years.
The only expanding industry in our high streets is charity shops, who do a good and worthwhile job. But when approaching 25 per cent of the shops in any high street are charity shops it is a sad indictment for local business.
I can remember Newcastle in the 1970s when the Metro rail network was been constructed and city parking spaces became fewer and more expensive.
The short-sighted city councillors at the time thought Joe Public would rush onto the new rail system and flock into Newcastle. Result, a guy called John Hall (later Sir John) bought some derelict land out of town for car boot prices and developed the first European out of town shopping centre, with free car parking, which since has gone from strength to strength.
Although Hambleton Council is to be commended for keeping council tax in the lowest ten per cent band in the UK, it should be very wary of the results of fleecing the motorist.
TREVOR NICHOLSON Seoul, Korea.