A Welsh think tank has proposed a levy on parking at out-of-town shopping centres to raise funds for sustainable transport, and claims the idea has some support in councils.
The recommendation features in an Institute of Welsh Affairs report on decarbonising transport by Chris Roberts, who was general secretary of Welsh Labour from 2005 to 2010 and subsequently a special advisor to the Welsh Government on legislation, including the Active Travel Act and Well-being of Future Generations Act. He is now secretary of the cross-party Active Travel Act group in the National Assembly for Wales.
Roberts says cars dominate transport to a greater extent in Wales than any other region or nation in the UK. Welsh buses are in decline, rail serves only a small part of Wales, and walking and cycling is generally static or declining.
He observes that the Welsh Government continues to promote free parking to support town centre regeneration. “Rather than reducing the advantage that out-of-town shopping centres have over high streets by lowering town centre parking fees, a more sustainable approach would be to impose a levy on out-of-town parking with the revenue used to fund sustainable transport. There is some support for such an approach within local councils but also nervousness about the electoral consequences of any rise in parking charges.”
The report also urges the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, local authorities and the bus industry to produce a clear plan for decarbonising the bus fleet “with the utmost urgency”.
He also calls on the Government to use recently devolved powers to set a default 20mph limit in urban areas and allow local authorities “discretion in exempting routes where justified”.
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