How does Richmond explain its obsession with persuading you to use your car?

Richmond Council loves talking about its 30 minutes free parking for locals, and its ‘considerate parking’ policies, but it doesn’t have any useful data to indicate what the actual effect is on local businesses, as you can see: (more on this in a post later this week)

I asked the borough:

Your planning policy aims for Richmond (http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/community_and_living/village_plans/richmond_and_richmond_hill_area_village_plan_xx/planning_and_development_richmond_and_richmond_hill.htm#c1) incude “Ensure there is sufficient short term car parking to enable Richmond to remain economically buoyant”.

Does anyone in the council have any data to demonstrate that the provision of short-term car-parking, in comparison to the provision of more pedestrianisation, better public transport links, or better cycling facilities, is actually a generator of economic activity for our area?

And they said: 

Our response:
We are able to draw on evidence from other areas and papers from other sources to assess impacts. Prominent examples include the recent Mary Portas Review, the subsequent Government response and the Federation of Small Business – links below. .

Portas Review:
http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/business-sectors/docs/p/11-1434-portas-review-future-of-high-streets.pdf
Government response:
http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/regeneration/portasreviewresponse
FSB paper:
http://www.fsb.org.uk/keeptradelocal/images/fsbparkinglores.pdf
We do not hold specific local data in relation to the economic impact of short term parking but our recent business ‘All in One Survey’ asked businesses what is most important to them in making their local area a good place to do business and what is most need of improving. In both cases, the provision of parking was rated highest.

Please see the link below for a summary of the report on this survey along with the link to the full report.
http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/council_government_and_democracy/council/get_involved/all_in_one/business_survey_2011.htm

Clearly parking is the top priority for attention in improving the business environment, followed by reducing the number of empty shops. Parking improvements (and price reduction) again comes ‘top of the list’ when respondents were asked for spontaneous suggestions for making the area a better place to do business, followed by lower rates and rents.

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