Under proposals contained in the Party’s quality of life policy review local councils would be given the power to force out-of-town shopping complexes to charge customers for parking. The reason… to defend the Great British high street.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t conservatism have something to do with free-markets, economic liberalism etc? The reality is people choose to shop in out-of-town stores because they’re cheaper. And what’s wrong with that, what entitles a particular type of shop – the high street store – to such blatant economic protectionism.
But fear not, everything is ok, these forced parking charges wouldn’t cost any more than parking in the nearest town centre… right. Applying that logic, why don’t we just force out-of-town stores to put a surcharge on their merchandise to bring out-of-town retail prices to levels comparable to those in the high-street. After all, if the ultimate objective is to create a disincentive for people to shop outside the high street wouldn’t this work much better? But perhaps that’s a step too far for a ‘policy’ that prefers to dip it’s feet into the waters of socialism rather than dive in.
All in all this proposal is such a bad idea that it could lose an election on its own. It must be disowned and disowned fast. It attacks shoppers, and more importantly hits those at the bottom end of the socio-economic spectrum harder than those higher up. And at a time when David Cameron wants to shake off the preconceptions surrounding his life of privilege, he cannot afford to alienate those less fortunate.
Here’s an idea though, rather than creating a new tax why not reduce the tax burden on small business – you know, the ones in the high street – and in doing so help them compete with the big guys?