A growing number of Dutch cities are abolishing paying parking zones altogether, or they are reducing rates to a minimum. Luc Ardies of Unizo argues that Belgian middle-sized cities should follow this example to give shop owners more breathing space.
Mr Ardies says that he is not talking about Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, or Bruges. These cities are attracting enough people anyway due to everything they have to offer. He is thinking more about cities such as Aalst, Dendermonde, Roeselare or Mechelen. "Parking fees are really high there. If consumers can choose between spending their euros on a parking spot and parking for free at big shopping centres, you will understand what their decision is."
The Organisation for Cities and Municipalities (VVSG) shows understanding for the request, but adds that it's not a magic trick that will solve all problems, pointing to the competition by internet shops.