David Blackburn

Pickles lands a small blow for growth

Pickles lands a small blow for growth
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Eric Pickles’ decentralisation revolution continues, with the announcement that Whitehall is relinquishing control over car parking restrictions in town centres. From now on, town halls will decide how much space will be devoted to parking and at what price. It is hoped that this will stimulate commerce in the localities by improving the experience of high street shoppers.     

This, I concede, is not the most thrilling news ever to have graced these pages. But it is quite significant nonetheless. It was understood that Pickles was unlikely to achieve this objective, due to Whitehall’s intransigence. So, this is another indication of Pickles’ ability to overcome the antediluvian forces arraigned against him and deliver reform, a rarity for this government at present if truth be told. It also represents the removal of a few more leaves from the book of convoluted planning regulations, in line with the nascent National Planning Policy Framework.

This is all very welcome and it should aid retailers outside London, providing town halls create more spaces and cut ticket prices. But a few extra spaces in Leamington Spa is not going to restore consumer confidence (and thus the fortunes of retailers), especially as disposable incomes and savings are dwindling.