More parking charges

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The Star should be congratulated for publishing extracts from Sheffield Council’s report on plans to increase parking charges at residential on-street bays so that the public can see it for themselves.

Moves to encourage people to get people out of their cars and use greener and healthier forms of transport, which ought to be welcomed by everyone, have apparently been condemned by Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for transport. He has ordered the report to be ‘pulled’ from the council website and, in his own words, ‘totally distances’ himself from its content.

Councillor Iqbal says he cannot see why motorists should be forced to ‘pay more in these difficult times’ at the same time as admitting that motorists are doing very well at the moment with lower petrol prices. Parking charges have also not risen for three years in the peripheral parking zones, so it seems to me that motorists are currently doing extra well while users of public transport have had to endure both large fare increases and significant reductions in service provision.

As cabinet officer for transport, surely he should be concerned about all forms of transport within the city, including walking and cycling as well as buses and trams, rather than regarding one mode of transport more favourably than the rest.

These days transport is no longer simply a matter of shifting people and goods from A to B.

There are well-documented health and environmental issues connected with traffic volumes.

Coun Iqbal must be aware of these issues, but is he concerned?

While Sheffield seems to have a 1960s approach to car use, other cities are far ahead.

In London, Mayor Boris Johnson created cycle super highways and now Mayor Sadiq Khan is promoting ‘active transport’, encouraging walking, cycling, and public transport in a bid to curb traffic and its harmful effects (London Evening Standard 5/8/16).

Recent research shows that senior citizens who use their free bus pass are 25 per cent less likely to be obese than those who don’t.

And the great success of the recent cycle Skyride in the city shows the massive appetite for alternatives to the car.

It is disturbing that a council cabinet member, elected to represent the interests of the whole city, should be concerned about just one narrow price issue for just one sector of transport.

I live in one of the peripheral parking zones (Broomhall and The Groves), that would have been affected by an increase in parking charges.

Anything that would reduce the amount of traffic on my road would be welcomed. In term time the whole neighbourhood is overwhelmed with cars coming in from elsewhere to get to Sheffield Hallam University’s Collegiate campus or to visit the shops and restaurants on Ecclesall Road, despite Ecclesall Road being very well served by buses. All these cars create appalling congestion at times, and the traffic fumes are often so bad that we have to keep our front windows closed even in warm weather.

Parents in the neighbourhood would love to let their children walk or cycle to school, but feel it is too dangerous to let them do this.

Finally, I would like to point out to Councillor Iqbal and the Federation of Small Businesses, that they are ignoring a whole tranche of potential customers by solely focusing on motorists.

Shops are not closed down because of lack of parking facilities – in fact most shopping streets are bus routes and accessible to everyone.

Any business that is concerned about customers not being able to carry heavy items, should be offering a home delivery service anyway. There are other factors such as out-of-town retail parks like Meadowhall and online shopping which have had a major impact on independent and high street retailers.

One should also not overlook the effect of bad business practices such as those that have led to the closure of BHS.

So please, editor, publish the full report in your paper and let’s have an open and evidence-based debate about how we can reduce private car use in Sheffield so as to improve health and wellbeing for everyone.

Karin Hessenberg

Broomgrove Road, S10