asked the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received in the last six months about the problem of private nonresidential parking in city centres.
None, apart from the response to the consultation document issued on private non-residential parking in July last year.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the results in the recent local elections were in part votes against the rather stupid and harsh policies of certain cities in squeezing the motorists out of city centres? Does he accept that it is necessary to encourage short-term parking for shopkeepers and housewives? Will he give more encouragement in this direction?
I agree with the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. But, although it might be nice to believe that we could attribute responsibility for election results to local decision-making, they are more likely to be an indicator of the general mood of the country mid-term. I do not, therefore, think that the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question follows from the first.My view, irrespective of political control, is that local authorities should have very wide discretion. I believe that they are best able to judge what is required in their localities for parking purposes and for any other action, and that, by and large, Parliament should seek to provide enabling powers. As the hon. Gentleman implied, there is always the redress that the electorate can exercise if local authorities make unpopular decisions.
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that residents in many of our suburbs are grossly inconvenienced by non-residential parking, particularly those living adjacent to factories, as is the case in my constituency? Is there any possibility of having residents-only parking sectors?
This is a complicated matter. Some areas have inadequate parking, but it is fair to say that the extent of non-residential private parking creates problems of traffic management. In my judgment, what the hon. Gentleman has said is further reason why Parliament should provide enabling powers. But discretion should lie at local level.