Is it time for free parking in Peterborough city centre?

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Is it time to axe parking charges in the city centre? The High Street, and not just in Peterborough, is in crisis and maybe even in terminal decline.

The perfect storm of internet shopping, out of town retail centres and economic and political uncertainty in our Brexit world, is threatening to deliver a blow city centre outlets will struggle to recover from.

I never got over the departure of Woolies from Bridge Street. Since then, Peterborough has been hit by a string of big names abandoning the city for a variety of reasons... HMV, Carluccio’s, Colemans...the list goes on.

If we are to save the High Street, and nearly everybody says they want to, it is time for drastic action.

Now, I’m sure the bosses at Queensgate and Peterborough City Council, two of the major parking providers, would be reluctant to lose the valuable revenue stream from parking charges. But, if we keep haemorrhaging big names, these streams will turn to a trickle pretty soon.

It would be a radical and brave move, but our city centre is not going to prosper on a mixture of fountains and charity shops.

Of course, it wouldn’t be as simple as just scrapping parking charges. Office workers and people commuting to London would quickly gobble up the spaces and defeat the object.

But why not, for example, offer three hours free, or, in the case of Queensgate, make it free if you spend £20 in the centre’s stores?

Somebody Tweeted the following this week: The more people we attract to our city, the more money generated for local businesses.

Guess who it was?

It was Peterborough City Council. Over to you, folks.

Paying politics

There was some good news for beleagured city MP Ms Onasanya as her salary (and that of all MPs) is to increase by nearly £2,000 a year in an inflation busting 2.7% rise.

Ms Onasanya’s predecessor Stewart Jackson was quick to defend his former colleagues in Westminster and Tweeted: I understand the furore about MP’s pay but most Parliamentarians work hard & really care about their constituencies & the useless and lazy ones are a small minority. The public demanded the salaries were set independently & that is exactly what has happened!

So it’s yours and my fault that MPs are getting a big pay rise!

If my salary, and millions of other people’s, were set independently I suspect we would all be in for a significant boost to our pay packets. But they’re not, they are set by those old nasty market forces and other stuff like a deliberate Government policy of austerity.

Still, don’t forget folks, as our old chum and old Etonian the former Tory chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne said “we’re all in this together’’.