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30 June 2017

FSB: Clamp down on bad parking policies to turn around high streets

Reference number: SPUR3006

£37 million generated though parking in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen

Badly managed local parking facilities are hampering efforts to turn around Scotland’s high streets, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Citing evidence that three Scottish councils are generating tens of millions of pounds of revenue from parking, even after subtracting their costs, the small business campaign group wants the Scottish Government to step in.  

 In a submission to Transport Scotland, the small business campaign group argues that good local parking is required to sustain a healthy local high street. They argue that if shoppers cannot access affordable and accessible parking, they’re more likely to go online or visit an out-of-town mall.

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Everyone in Scotland wants our high streets to flourish. We want shoppers to be tempted away from their computers to use the fantastic goods and services provided by local independent retailers.

“But if it isn’t cheap and convenient to visit a high street or town centre, people won’t bother. Two thirds of working families have a car – we need to design our local places with these people in mind.”

Figures collated by the RAC Foundation show that, once local authorities subtract their running costs, Edinburgh City Council generated £19.4m from parking in financial year 2015/16, Glasgow City Council made £12.6m and Aberdeen City Council £4.9m.

FSB suggests that a stronger link should be established between parking income, roads maintenance and high street regeneration – highlighting figures from Audit Scotland that a third of Scotland’s local roads are in an unacceptable condition.

FSB also argues that poor parking facilities – amongst other factors – are key reasons why it remains difficult to retain and attract large public and private organisations in our towns. For example, poor local parking was repeatedly cited in relation to the decision to close local courts in Scotland.

Andy Willox said: “We want more public services – like GP surgeries and government offices – on our high streets. The future of the high street lies in having a mix of sectors that attract a broader range of customers or clients.  But our parking policies are standing in the way of that change.”

The small business campaign group also makes the case for smarter parking systems – highlighting the difficulties which Scottish councils had adapting to the new £1 coin. They also support ticketless parking systems, which could reduce running costs and help incentivise visitors to visit local traders.

Andy Willox said: “21st century parking should not mean rattling around the glove compartment for change. Wherever possible, paying for parking should be as easy as sending a text message.”