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80% of motorists report increased parking charges

The research, part of the RAC’s Report on Motoring 2014, surveyed 1,526 motorists and found that 80% reported increasing parking charges in towns and cities. Two-thirds of these drivers (67%) believe there is now less parking close to their town or city centre and that parking restrictions have become more stringent where they live, and a quarter (24%) state traffic wardens are now more active in their area.

More than a fifth (22%) said they had seen parking spaces that used to be free become charged for in the last 12 months, rising to a quarter (24%) for those living in suburban areas.

And 65% of motorists reported that even when they finally find a space to park, it’s too small for today’s breed of cars, many of which are wider than previous generations of vehicle because of the addition of side impact protection features.

In response RAC technical director David Bizley said: ‘Britain’s local authorities have undoubtedly got a tough job to keep a growing driving population happy while allowing our high streets to thrive and keep traffic moving, but they need to think and act boldly.

‘We need transparency. Councils should be compelled to report where the money raised from parking goes – giving drivers assurance that it is being ploughed back into road and transport improvements, rather than just plugging budget holes elsewhere. 41% of drivers we spoke to were suspicious about what parking fees are used for.

‘At the same time, drivers need to play their part in using their cars for appropriate journeys, and parking sensibly. Take, for example, the chaos of parking close to the school gates; this is a perennial problem up and down the country and represents a safety risk as well as a general annoyance for drivers and pedestrians alike.

‘The British high street is suffering and the squeeze on parking spaces is making it even tougher for many to get there. We need to find creative solutions that encourage motorists to use the high street or else the out–of–town shopping centre with its free parking will continue to thrive at the expense of traditional town centres. In short, councils should be looking to make it easier and cheaper to park, not more difficult and more expensive.’

Last month saw ACFO issue its top 10 parking tips for fleets following its recent "Another Fine Mess?" seminar on the subject.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.