In a weekend newspaper article, Peter Davies, the elected mayor of Doncaster is memorably quoted as saying: “People will not use the buses: they are poor and expensive. People in cars spend more than people on buses, why wouldn’t we want them?”
At the same time, at the CTN World trade show in London, I was talking to a retailer who explained that her local council kept on making it harder and harder for people to park near her shop. They insisted on residents parking bays in roads that were empty during the day when the residents drove to work. They installed traffic lights which took more kerbside out of use for parking. The free parking that was available was not ample enough to support her high street.
Even worse, the council ran buses from the train station to the out of town shopping centre where national retailers predominated and where there was ample free parking.
Mr Davies puts his unexpected electoral success down to plain speaking on issues that matter. He wants to encourage cars back into the centre of Doncaster because he thinks it will be good for business. “We have arrayed against us the climate change alarmists and green fools, who want us all to eat lettuce and live in caves,” he says.
The good news for local retailers is that if you can put your case across, there is hope that the electorate will listen.