Bristol City Council is proposing levying a tax on business car parking spaces in the city.
In return it is promising to allocate the funds to a new rapid transit public transport scheme for the area.
Meanwhile the council also has aspirations to develop a Retail Action Plan for the city, because shoppers are shopping elsewhere and, rather late in the day, the council has woken up to the economic crisis on its doorstep.
As is so typical with large public sector organisations, its initiatives are completely uncoordinated and, in this case, contradictory. The main reason why Bristol’s retail premises have so few shoppers is the years of anti car policies the council has pursued.
The retailers’ problem in Bristol could be wiped out in an instant if the council had the economic acumen and political will to build better road infrastructure and provide copious free parking.
Taxing small businesses for their car parking spaces is abject stupidity.
The council isn’t anti-business per se – in six days time it is running a major Business-to-Business exhibition with the Federation of Small Businesses (of which your contributor happens to be the local branch chairman). And, in principle, the council wants to encourage business but it is still widely infiltrated with the enemies of enterprise.
This latest anti-business measure is abject stupidity. Don’t people in the council realise what an economic recession actually means? How can levying a tax on businesses do anything but drive more of them out of the city, or out of business altogether?
And, who needs this daft rapid transport scheme anyway? It is nothing more than a grandiose infrastructure project that people with more power than sense just love to get carried away with. It is an ego trip for councillors and officials. The voice of reason is undermined when other business organisations lend their support to these flights of fancy, just because the quango-sitters get sucked up with all the group-think and self-importance that goes with sitting on committees.
That’s not to say that nothing should be done about public transport in the city. It is indeed in a dire state, but before people get carried away with these grandiose ego trips they should first fix the simple, basic, cheap things glaring everyone in the face – sensible routing, sensible timetables, realistic fare structures and initiatives to ensure large environmentally unfriendly and noisy vehicles don’t trundle around for miles and miles nearly empty.