We live in a lovely village in the Chilterns called Chalfont St Giles. It's a real village, just 25 miles from the centre of London. But the livelihood of the local shops and businesses is under threat. Chiltern District Council - slogan: delivering the best for Chiltern - wants to start charging local people for parking on the street in places like Chalfont St Giles. (See Bucks Examiner newspaper campaign.)
The move strikes me as a blatant attempt to raise money, without any consideration for the needs of the local community. As you can see from the photo, this isn't an urban jungle. The owners of the cars in the photo were picking up their papers from Gordon Patrick's Old Post House newsagent and shop. They were there for three minutes maximum. In an ideal world they'd have walked or cycled down the steep hill to the village. But if they had to pay 50p to park - as I was forced to in nearby Amersham today for 10 minutes - they'd have been tempted to skip the village and get their papers with their shopping in Tesco in Amersham, with its free parking.
Chalfont St Giles is a lively village, with a wonderful Deli, high quality butchers and bakery, picture framers, greengrocers, pet shop, florists and much more. The Crown pub and restaurant was Captain Mainwaring's bank in the film version of Dad's Army. Yet all these businesses will find life harder if the local council - who are supposed to be on our side - gets its way. Chiltern has already pushed up the cost of an hour's parking in Amersham from 30p to 50p in in two years - dramatically above the rate of inflation.
What really annoys me is that Chiltern council does nothing to stop illegal parking - on double yellow lines - in St Giles, which makes life really difficult for people leaving the paid-for car park in Blizzards Yard. Instead, they decide to charge everyone, and to put up unsightly parking meter machines on the village green. Time to protest.