There is growing concern among motorists about both the cost and availability of parking in the UK, according to the latest RAC Report on Motoring.
Almost a fifth (18%) of the 1,714 motorists surveyed for the report said the cost of parking is one of their top-four concerns, a 50% increase compared with one in eight (12%) who said this in 2015. And, fears about the availability of parking have also increased, and by an even greater proportion, with one in seven (14%) – a 75% increase on the 8% on 2015 – now saying this is a top-four motoring concern.
Concern about the availability of parking is unsurprisingly biggest in London where 20% say it is a significant issue. Similarly, the cost of parking is also the greatest concern for London’s motorists with 25% listing it as such, but outside the capital it is a significant cause of worry for drivers in the East Midlands (21%) closely followed by the West Midlands, the East of England and Yorkshire where it was named as a concern by 20% of motorists surveyed.
Of those who leave their cars at home for short journeys and use public transport instead, nearly a quarter (23%) said they have done so because they can’t find affordable parking when they get to their destination. This problem appears to be worst in the North of England where nearly four in 10 (39%) cited it. Other areas where motorists believe this to be the case include the East of England (31%), Yorkshire (29%) and the South West (26%).
And, with cost being such a great concern it is perhaps no wonder that a whopping 84% of motorists think they are an easy target for local authorities to raise revenue through parking fines.
Interestingly, while the average annual mileage driven by motorists in the RAC Report on Motoring 2016 has changed relatively little in the last 12 months, the difficulty in finding parking was cited as the most common reason for motorists using their vehicles less. In fact a quarter (24%) of those who use their cars less said this was a factor compared to only 14% who gave the same reason 12 months ago.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Motorists are very clearly more concerned about the availability and cost of parking than they were 12 months ago. This is a worrying finding as struggling to find somewhere to park and then having to pay through the nose to do so could have a very negative effect both on individuals who rely on their cars to go about their daily lives and on businesses in our town and city centres whose viability affects the prosperity of our high streets.
“We hope that the growing concern about the cost of parking is not symptomatic of a blatant attempt by operators to generate increased profits or by policymakers to force more people out of their cars and onto expensive or inadequate public transport instead – a case of using too much ‘stick’ and not enough ‘carrot’ when it comes to making motorists change behaviour.
“In fact, our research tells us that more than half of drivers (54%) would drive less if public transport was better and 44% of this group would use it more if the fares were not so high.
“Looking at a national level the Government has been slow to respond to the Department for Communities and Local Government discussion paper on tackling unfair parking practices. When they do publish their views we will study them very closely to understand the implications for motorists, but given that our findings show that cost and availability of parking is an increasing concern for motorists, the Government should make its views known sooner rather than later.
“In the meantime we urge the Government and local authorities to recognise the important role that parking fulfils in the health of local high streets, on employment and on local communities and to reflect this in both parking provision and the associated legislative framework.”