A novel scheme is under consideration by the council in the seaside town of Brighton and Hove, on the south coast of England, designed to improve the popularity of the resort with visitors at times when they might otherwise choose to stay at home. They have recognised that it might be possible to increase the number of vehicles using the existing street parking, if the tariffs are more reflective of what the weather is doing. Brits are commonly obsessed with the weather and talk about it whenever conversation begins to dry up, but to introduce differential pricing in such a manner is a first for the country.
The modification to (essentially) rigid pricing to allow more variation would enable Brighton to charge "significantly less" on days during the summer when it was raining, as compared to the more seasonal weather that they would be hoping for, so as to act to encourage the 'undecided' traveller. Businesses would be hopeful that such a move would encourage the stay at home shoppers to venture out on days when they might otherwise stay put at home.
The flexible charging idea is just one of the points incorporated into the manifesto for the local Conservative party, ahead of the local council elections in May. They would also consider lowering the parking charges across the board in winter in another attempt to stimulate increased trade.
Even if the basic idea was deemed acceptable, it would be interesting to venture just how much cheaper the pricing would need to be to make it attractive enough to convince drivers to bring themselves and fellow passengers out in all weathers. Initial ponderings seem to suggest that a half price offer is being considered, but clearly some form of trial run of the idea might be useful to gauge the reaction. It would also be intriguing to see if the variability of the British weather means that those determining the variations can be spot on, as it has been known for the forecast to be wrong or change at the last minute. Presumably they would make a decision based on the initial forecast and stick to that whatever actually transpires.
Such a concept is not globally unknown, with several places varying their pricing in similar ways, such as in San Francisco and Madrid.
The suggestion has not been universally embraced though, with some dissenters going as far as to liken the idea to something more in keeping with an April 1st prank. It has also been mooted that it may confuse drivers, since the different sets of prices would need to be made clear on some form of advertising or (more likely) road signing. A driver's understanding as to what constitutes a 'wet day' may differ from the official pricing decision. On the plus side, if it could work, other places may also opt to follow suit, with potential benefits for motorists (and businesses) across the country.