French lessons will pay dividends

It a shame that British voters keep on electing councillors determined to destroy their towns and communities.

I left Tod for France a few years ago and British towns could learn a lot from practices here. Despite enormous out of town shopping areas the French town centres for the most part still thrive.

In our local town, which has a busy market two days a week, there are paid parking spaces near the town centre but 300 yards from the main square all parking, including a huge square is free.

Throughout the holiday season, about three summer months, all parking is free to encourage passing trade. On market days there is a free shuttle bus around the town and the numerous free car parks, some of which are created specially on market days.

In many towns at lunchtime there are no parking charges at all so people come into the centre for lunch or shopping.

The attitude is different too, a few years ago I was in a bar on a pedestrian square. Nearby was a car parked totally against the rules. The local policier strode reluctantly up and walked round it a few times, and then a few more times, then had a think about it. By then the driver had returned and a few words, but no tickets, were exchanged and both parties departed contentedly. Rather a contrast to what happens in the UK!

Our town is expanding, new stores opening and there is lots of new housing going up. It is prospering and it is doing it by encouraging visitors, shopping and business.

Graham Chivrall, Ariege, France.