Communities secretary Eric Pickles has alarmed supporters of pro-bus policies by calling on “anti-car” councils to provide more parking spaces

Communities secretary Eric Pickles faced a backlash from supporters of pro-bus policies this week after announcing that new guidance to councils will urge them to ditch “anti-car dogma” and provide more town centre parking spaces.

The new planning guidance, which is due to be published this week, will state that councils should understand the important role parking facilities can play in rejuvenating shops, high streets and town centres.

“Anti-car measures are driving motorists into the arms of internet retailers and out of town superstores, taking their custom with them,” said Pickles.

But a spokesman for the Local Government Association responded: “Creating more spaces in town and city centres where there is no room for them is simply not the way to draw more shoppers to the High Street.

“Parking measures help avoid congestion in our high streets.”

This view was echoed by Bus Users UK, which pointed out that 1.4 billion shopping trips are made by bus each year, creating retail spend in excess of £20bn. “Car-friendly policies alone could make matters worse,” said Bus Users UK chief executive Claire Walters. “We should be promoting excellent public transport.”

Meanwhile, one senior bus industry figure commented: “Is Pickles a complete nutter? First he wants all cars to be able to stop for 15 minutes on double yellows now he wants unfettered car access to towns and cities.

“I agree that sensible parking policies are required and over zealous wardens need to be reined in, but this is a recipe for gridlock and the eventual demise of local bus services.”


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