Coffee House

Pickles lands a small blow for growth

1 August 2011

6:08 PM

1 August 2011

6:08 PM

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.

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Show comments
  • rosie

    Best of all would be no on street parking at all – as in the Far East. Parking is wholly private in Japan for example, not the province of the state at all. You pay the market rate for it, and it is out of everyone else’s way. Roads and pavements are free to pass along, and there is no congestion. Our streets were never intended to become carparks, and when the horrid habit first started the police would say: “You can’t leave that there ‘ere.” It was rightly considered an obstruction. If we could get rid of the parking clutter and the parked and double parked cars clogging up not just two thirds of our roads but our entire townscapes, think how much better it would be for everyone, and not just aesthetically.

  • Tony (Somerset)

    “now pay 50p for an hour”

    or try Weston super Mare seafront – £5 for “up to 4 hours”

  • In2minds

    Mind you…… “a few extra spaces in Leamington Spa”…..will help a lot when the people from rural Warwickshire who don’t want the HS2 come into town to join the protests!

  • Steve Tierney

    What town centers need is plenty of free, easy parking to encourage visitors and to make is quick and convenient to use them. What they’ll often get, if town halls are deciding, is expensive “pay” schemes to line the coffers of the local authority for use on their other pet projects.

  • PayDirt

    parking charges, high? well from January 2012 I won’t be able to drive into Chessington never mind find a parking spot, Boris is going to charge £100 a day to drive into his low emission zone, eco-fascists are on the loose, wait til they come to your town, then you’ll see

  • TomTom

    “now pay 50p for an hour.”

    Cheapo. Try Leeds at

  • Financial Sense


    I find it sensible to seek out the people who call the market correctly and study their utterances. Dalio has been calling it well for years and his call for a 2011 slowdown is happening.

    I posted the above notes because I am vexed by the very slow pace of supply-side reforms, sadly the political elite in Westminister really don’t get it.

  • normanc

    I actually, possibly alone in the UK, like the parking charges that have been brought into the town centre where I live. There are still free car parks if you are willing to walk 5 minutes but the largest car park in the centre you now pay 50p for an hour.

    Before the charges this park would be filled first thing in the morning with workers cars and it was always a nightmare to find a space. Now I’m guaranteed a space if I want to nip down the road for a quick message.

  • Paul B

    It’s silly season on Coffee House. A total non story. Which you fell for hook, line and sinker.

    And if this is the best that Pickles can come up with in the annual news drought then it underlines the depths to which his star has fallen. His party is fed up with him, and his officials hate him. He is in a pickle.

  • Baron

    Financial Sense @ 10.24:

    a word into your ear, man can predict everything, but the future, keep an eye on Bridgewater, sooner or later they’ll come unstuck as did the great George, the stuff you quote says a lot, but nothing that could make you or me to position ourselves so that if a disaster strikes we’ll be safe.

    trust me, I know, I’ve looked it up.

    when profiles hit the New Yorker is usually a sign for bailing out.

  • I S

    Yeah, that’ll turn it all around. A mighty victory indeed.

  • Financial Sense

    This is where we’re going to:

    Ray Dalio interview in the New Yorker – July 2011:

    This spring, he told me that economic growth in the United States and Europe was set to slow again. This was partly because some emergency policy measures, such as the Obama Administration’s stimulus package, would soon come to an end; partly because of the chronic indebtedness that continues to weigh on these regions; and partly because China and other developing countries would be forced to take drastic policy actions to bring down inflation. Now that the slowdown appears to have arrived, Dalio thinks it will be prolonged. “We are still in a deleveraging period,” he said. “We will be in a deleveraging period for ten years or more.”

    Dalio believes that some heavily indebted countries, including the United States, will eventually opt for printing money as a way to deal with their debts, which will lead to a collapse in their currency and in their bond markets. “There hasn’t been a case in history where they haven’t eventually printed money and devalued their currency,” he said. Other developed countries, particularly those tied to the euro and thus to the European Central Bank, don’t have the option of printing money and are destined to undergo “classic depressions,” Dalio said. The recent deal to avoid an immediate debt default by Greece didn’t alter his pessimistic view. “People concentrate on the particular thing of the moment, and they forget the larger underlying forces,” he said. “That’s what got us into the debt crisis. It’s just today, today.”

    Dalio’s assessment sounded alarmingly plausible. But when one plays the global financial markets a thorough economic analysis is only the first stage of the game. At least as important is getting the timing right. I asked Dalio when all this would start to come together. “I think late 2012 or early 2013 is going to be another very difficult period,” he said.

  • JohnPage

    Yeah the local authoritarians will probably bump the charges up. Got to pay the staff costs somehow.

  • John

    It’s just too pathetic to comment further

  • Baron

    David, one thing you’ve missed, or possibly you did cover it, I’ve missed it, a planning permission will no longer be required for converting small town shops into apartments, private dwellings, it strikes as something that may breathe new life into the deserts our town centres resemble after six, if dwellers move in, restaurants, coffee shops, tastefully furnished bordellos may move it, and voila, our towns will be alive again.

  • anyonebuttthescott

    i can see a hefty rise in parking prices, more reason to shop at out at high street shops like tescos and to shop online.

  • Baron

    Financial Sense @ 7.19:

    so your solution is to replace consumer demand with exactly what?

  • Marcher Baron

    I find it ironic that local government is supposed to be set free to deal with parking. We used to have free parking (a wonderful incentive to come to our small market town) but the County Council has told us we HAVE to have parking charges whether we like it or not (and nobody, including the town council) does. We won a stay of execution, but the reprieve hasn’t lasted long. The pay and display signs have been put up (and I wonder how much that cost).

  • Clear Memories

    So now when there is nowhere to park and the streets are full of little Hitlers, you know the fault lies with the local sh*ts you voted for rather than the fat-prat from Hull.

  • Financial Sense

    That Which Is Too Fearful To Speak
    The Demise of the Consumer Economy

    By Charles Hugh Smith


    The Demise of the Consumer Economy

    The consumer-debt-based economy is doomed; good riddance. It was nothing more than an elaborate cargo cult based on marketable anxiety.

    The consumer-debt-based economy is toast, but everyone’s too terrified by its demise to acknowledge this reality, never mind consider a new model. The entire creaking economy is based on a few ideas which no longer work:

    1) Create “aggregate demand” (i.e. consumer demand, which then creates business demand) and the economy “grows,” people are hired and get paid, and that’s good.

    2) When consumer demand slumps because people are over-indebted and can’t afford to buy more of anything, then “stimulate” demand with massive Central State spending to replace the vanished private demand.

    3) Demand is endless. You can never have enough stuff, food, vacations, education, healthcare and toys. Give people free money, or the ability to borrow nearly-free money, and they will spend, spend, spend. This creates “growth” which is always good.

    A funny thing happened on the way to the infinite demand/consumption model–or actually, two things:

    A. People borrowed all they could afford, and then borrowed more. Now they can’t borrow any more, even if the interest rate is low. By some estimates, American consumers need to pay down $4 trillion in debt just to restore the income-to-debt ratios of the early 1980s, never mind the early 1960s.

    B. Infinite demand met marginal return in a dark alley, and infinite demand is in the gutter, whoozy and bleeding profusely.

    Consumption is our god, our faith and our religion. Like a cargo cult dependent on a magical connection to prosperity, we are terrified by the prospect that our religion is based on a false god–that is, that consumption and consumption alone leads to prosperity and happiness.

    Like a cargo cult that we mock in our infinite industrious superiority, we worship the equivalent of rocks painted to look like radios that we can use to “call” the gods of endless prosperity.

    This rock that’s painted to look like a radio is called “debt,” and we call upon it to magically provide us with prosperity from over the seas.

    This other rock that’s painted to look like a radio is called “aggregate demand,” and it’s carefully worshipped by a special troop of voodoo-wielding witch doctors called Keynesians.

    We are chanting magical phrases to these rock-painted “radios,” pleading for a return to easy prosperity, but nothing’s happening. We fear the magic no longer works, and that possibility terrifies us so much we can’t even bear to speak of this loss.

  • daniel maris

    Really, really, really! Naivety of the first order.

    1. Local authorities derive huge amounts of revenue from parking restrictions. They have no interest in cutting back at a time of financial austerity, especially since they don’t receive any extra business rate revenue.

    2. If they are being given control over Sunday parking, you are going to find most local authorities will now impose Sunday controls whereas previously there was free parking.

  • In2minds

    Pickles and parking, a small step for a big man. It’s all very well talking about “Whitehall’s intransigence” and asking for patience. It’s well over a year since the election when does something really big happen? There is a life beyond shopping after all!

  • Trevors Den

    Why should Whitehall control parking in Wigan?

  • TomTom

    With the stranglehold NCP has it doesn’t really matter. Town centres are dead – public transport is dire and the hostility towards motorists favours online shopping

  • Hard Hearted, but Romantic Perry

    Drenched in admiration as you are, David, I think you should be prepared for these proposals, – any proposals, to be overturned, or U-turned by the H2B.