THE Government's strategy to restrict parking in busy districts had backfired and accelerated charges, a motorists' group has claimed. Hongkong Automobile Association chief executive Mr Phil Taylor said restriction on the number of parking spaces in properties in busy districts had failed to discourage motorists from going there. ''This philosophy has proved to be wrong as motorists still go to the busy districts despite the limit on parking spaces,'' Mr Taylor said. Demand stayed high but restriction limited the number of spaces, so charges were pushed up. Congestion had worsened because motorists had to search for parking spaces. A survey showed hourly parking charges ranged from $9 to $10 in Tsuen Wan, to $13 at Kai Tak Airport, $15 in Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok, and $20 to $30 in Causeway Bay. Private car park operators were free to review their charges because the Transport Department monitored only the fees of its 14 car parks which were privately operated. However, both the Government and private operators considered operating costs, inflation rates, supply and demand, and the district's traffic conditions when setting charges. They also considered maximising returns. Industry sources said some car parks in busy districts such as Central were not always full. There could be a 20 per cent vacancy rate. Fees were reviewed and adjusted to reflect customers' willingness to pay for the convenience of private vehicles. Transport Department senior engineer Mr Tony So Yam-tat said the Hongkong Planning Standards and Guidelines issued by the Planning Department determined the number of parking spaces. Future residential and commercial developments were expected to have sufficient parking to match current and anticipated car ownership. Hongkong Island's chief engineer Mr Liew Kwok-shan said limiting parking spaces could help control traffic and discourage car ownership. ''But we would not reject all the developers' requests to have more car park spaces than the Government's standards,'' Mr Liew said. He said they would consider whether traffic conditions in the relevant district could cope with a greater volume of cars.