Stuck in the slow lane


As if people were not already feeling the effects of the current economic downturn, the government seems hell-bent on draining every last penny from the pockets of individuals and firms. Under possible plans drawn up by ministers, local councils may soon have the power to charge employees up to £350 a year to park in areas provided by their employers.

The apparent logic (if we can call it that) behind this idea is that it will relieve congestion on our roads and help reduce pollution as the extra taxes will create a disincentive to drive to work. But this is hardly likely to work without significant improvements to public transport – something which, frankly, it would be very naïve to expect. And when you consider that fact that rail fares are going to rise by 11 percent in the South East next year, it looks like commuters are going to be attacked from both sides.

It seems ludicrous to me that a local council can be given the jurisdiction to impose parking charges in areas owned and provided by firms. This higher parking charge could simply force workers to park in the streets or in public spaces, creating further congestion our already overcrowded city centres. As people's disposable incomes are falling, this extra cost of working could prove to be a large blow, especially to those on lower incomes. The government claims to be helping those on lower incomes. Yet currently it is giving with one hand, while taking away with two.

Perhaps as we see rising unemployment we will see a fall in commuter congestion – and maybe then the government will finally be able to justify their poor economic performance!