22 September 2011

Cornwall Council is set to help some of the low paid with the cost of car parking.

The Council’s advisory panel on parking has suggested a special season ticket for town centre council car parks for people getting working tax credits: £300 a year for the ticket, payable in instalments. This will help those on low wages in jobs in or near town centres.

More details are here and here (item 2 of the minutes 15 September 2011).

This is an excellent proposal; the panel and its chair, Andrew Wallis, have responded well to concerns about the low paid being priced out of parking and work; it’s an example of doing good in minute particulars. I hope the Cabinet goes along with this at its October meeting.

There remains the question of how to help the young low paid who do not get working tax credits. I hope that question is solved. And of course the Council has still to take up the question of a living wage for all its employees.

Car parking charges are problematic. Motorists do not like them and wish them to be as low as possible; but council car parks are a community asset and charges below the market rate are in effect a subsidy to users from council-tax payers, some of whom are also users. Cheap parking, smartly scheduled, helps shoppers and shop owners and workers too and helps to keep the town centre as a viable retail centre, though the last seems to me a disputable aim for a council. Is this help also a subsidy? I think subsidising the poor or disabled is justifiable but a wider subsidy or discount to motorists requires close argument rather than claim and description.

“Labour well the minute particulars … He who would do good to another must do it in minute particulars” William BLAKE (1757-1827) ‘The holiness of minute particulars’ in Jerusalem, lines 51 and 60.