Many of us will have experienced the frustration of searching for a town centre parking space, finding one but then struggling for the right change to feed the parking meter.
Or perhaps discovering that the council’s meter handles mobile phone payments but the parking app you have on your phone doesn’t work with the meter’s system.
My team at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is working with the Department of Transport to end that frustration by making the smart technology we now have really work for the motorist.
The idea is to introduce new national parking data standards to make all local councils and companies use the "same language", supporting the development of apps to make parking easier for drivers.
This will lead to smoother and easier payment methods right across the country and could transform the way we park in the same way as the Oyster card transformed paying for travel in London.
The development of a common "parking language" will make it easier for local authorities and private companies to exchange data, ensuring cars of the future navigate both driver and passengers to an available space based on the price, quality of the space, safety of the space and availability of on-site services — including being near to electric chargepoints.
Introduction of common standards should ultimately free up crucial space, easing congested towns and cities and, crucially, boosting British high streets.
The vitality of our High Streets remains a key issue for me and this Government. Along with the business rates relief scheme announced in the last Budget which cuts the bills of up to 90 per cent of High Street concerns by a third, we are always looking for new ways to help our town centres thrive.
Like the Great British High Streets Awards which have entered their second year with entries for the 2019 awards about to close.
In the first year of these awards – designed to encourage innovation and enterprise in the battle to revitalise our town centres – Richmond, Northallerton and Bedale did really well. Richmond was shortlisted in the final and Northallerton and Bedale, although not finalists, received special mentions for the quality of their entries. Fingers crossed for Richmond and Northallerton in 2019.
Despite the well-publicised travails of High Streets around the country ours in North Yorkshire continue to ‘punch above their weight I’m pleased to say. New businesses offering very different products and customer experiences continue to open.
Just last week I called in to two businesses in Richmond which were newly-opened or under new ownership and are doing well
Janet and Roger Nutting have had a great start with Out of the Box in King Street – a new shop which offers an amazing range of foods and household goods without – or with minimal – packaging, and Wendy Postgate has taken on the established Sip Coffee Shop, also in King Street, refurbished it and is now serving a great range of teas, coffees, cakes and sandwiches.
I’ll be returning to what the Nuttings are doing – along with Susan Ganderton-Jackson at Earth Unwrapped, a very similar enterprise which opened in Northallerton High Street earlier this year - to encourage customers to avoid unnecessary packaging in a future column. I’ll also outline the measures the Government is taking to reduce food packaging and food waste.