The Commission for Integrated Transport wants ministers to consider charges as a way to curb rising traffic in outer urban areas and halt the decline in town and city centres. The idea was dropped from the 1998 transport white paper, despite support from then transport secretary and now deputy prime minister John Prescott, who asked CfiT to review the issue.
CfiT has now studied existing voluntary measures to stem traffic to out-of-town centres and claims they are inadequate. It wants ministers to look at charges - either through a new levy on parking to retailers or direct to shoppers, or through higher business rates on parking spaces as an incentive to reduce the number.
Longer term, the commission's chairman, David Begg, believes a national road-pricing scheme could tackle the problem, but this would not be introduced for at least a decade.