Wolfson slams motion to charge for car parking

Simon Wolfson, chief executive of Next, has attacked Conservative proposals to force out-of-town shoppers to pay car-parking fees.

The leading Tory businessman and adviser to David Cameron is co-author of the Conservative Party’s report on economic competitiveness. He attacked the proposals, which are included in the quality-of-life policy review, written by former minister John Gummer and environmental activist Zac Goldsmith.

“It is very unfair to impose taxes people were not expecting,” Wolfson told The Daily Telegraph. “If you have made an investment under a current tax system, it is wrong to change that.”

The British Retail Consortium also criticised the proposals. “There seems to be a presumption that everyone lives in town centres close to a high street and that getting to an out-of-town retail centre involves a long drive,” said a BRC spokesman.

Under the proposals, councils would be given the power to demand that big supermarkets and other stores on the outskirts of towns charge their customers for parking.

David Cameron said: “We will consider all ideas and decide what to put in our manifesto. I fully understand the pressures that families feel in getting the weekly shop done and don’t want to make that more difficult. But we do need to think more about what is happening in some of our towns where the high streets are dying.”