PARKING charges. It's the issue that won't go away.

Having worked in several rural towns over the last decade or two, I've heard first-hand the widespread consternation it causes. From paying extortionate prices for a couple of hours in York, to having to fork out a pound or two to shop on your own high street, very few places seem to get the balance right.

Parking bays and car parks won't maintain themselves, that's a fact.

Someone has to foot the maintenance and monitoring bills and it's not unreasonable for that someone to be the motorist who uses them.

There'd be uproar, quite rightly, if council tax was increased to allow free parking for all - especially when it comes to the car-less who'd be subsidising other people's parking.

Yet there is something undeniably irritating about having to pay money to park on a road that one has already contributed hundreds of pounds towards via various taxes.

And then of course there's the over-zealous wardens who won't give an inch, or a minute, not to mention those awful privately-operated car parks with their sinister cameras that don't miss a trick. The cynical among us might think their increasingly confusing payment methods are designed purely to catch us out. Entering a registration number incorrectly or not having the requisite phone app can lead to months of being hounded by penalty payment demand letters.

It's certainly a jungle out there. But in this age of internet shopping, councils must do all they can to encourage people to venture out into it. Otherwise it'll be our high streets that ultimately pay the price.