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CARS: Costs to NHS and councils

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Car ownership in the north east has risen faster than anywhere else in the UK.

It could be that people have more money or cars are getting cheaper. It has certainly been added to by the continued decimation of public bus services.

It is not, however, car ownership that causes problems, but car usage and where people park them.

The shorter runs to shops and schools, which make up the majority of daily journeys, add considerably to deteriorating air quality, so the NHS bill for those with respiratory problems goes up.

Parking on pavements meant for safe passage for pedestrians can cause damage, which adds to every council’s repair bill.

Then there is the cost to the NHS when elderly people fall on broken flagstones and break hips or shoulders, not to mention the distress it causes.

Inconsiderate parking that forces pedestrians, especially those with double buggies, or wheelchair users off pavements and into the path of vehicles is dangerous and a criminal offence. That’s something else for our shrinking police forces to do.

Houses with no garages and no off-road parking are often bought by families with several cars. Residents-only parking permits on the public highway cost councils time and money to legally organise, advertise, administer and supervise, something that is often not understood by those who want them and then complain when they are asked to pay for them.

Unfortunately, with the present government there seems no hope of a properly joined-up, publicly owned public transport system, but money could be saved for councils and the NHS

Councillor Muriel Green

Weetslade Ward