No Sh*t Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes 1894The week end press reports that following the destruction of parking meters in Cardigan (Wales) high street sales increased.
Marcus Jones, the Government High Streets Minister has suggested that small town centres could become “parking meter-free zones” in an effort to save shops from closure. The Government is growing increasingly concerned that punitive parking costs and fines are deterring shoppers from using their local high streets.
Small stores are going out of business as people increasingly shop online and use supermarkets to avoid parking charges.
At last the penny has dropped, people prefer the free parking at supermarkets to paying for parking at Council car park sites. Hadleigh High Street is a good example where parking at Morrison’s is simple and free whereas when one uses the Co-op and the Council car park you have to get a free ticket to show your latest permitted  time of departure.
And yet, even as late as last year, a senior Babergh District Conservative Councillor told me that parking charges would have to go up in 2016/17 because of budget gaps. These are the people for whom there can never be enough evidence to overturn an entrenched view.
Where is the application of the Primum non nocere principle which means “first, do no harm?”  In practical Local Government governance this means that it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good.
Ministers have warned, “The law clearly states that parking fines should not be used as a way of generating revenue.” The Department for Communities and Local Government has advised that  any local authority found to be using parking fines as a way to make money could face reduced levels of government funding.
(Of course parking fines and parking charges are two different things, so I do not rule out Babergh bringing in short term car parking charges in the belief that this time it will all be different!)
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